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Taste of sunshine

by
16 January 2015

by Simon Walsh

iStock

ONE of the highlights of January for me is the brief appearance of Seville oranges in the shops. Marmalade is easy to make, and keeps that sunshine taste going throughout the year. Because there is usually some dark sugar left over from the Christmas cake, it finds a use here, and gives an almost toffee taste for the citrus to cut through.

1kg (2 lb 3 oz) Seville oranges

1.8kg sugar (3 lb 14 oz) - at least

1kg preserving sugar/500g dark

muscovado

juice of two lemons

Place the oranges in a large saucepan or preserving pan, cover with water until they float, bring this to the boil, and simmer gently for about three hours. Top up with more water if needed.

Once soft, remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl and leave to cool. Over a plate (to catch the drips), slice each one in half, and scoop out the pips into a small saucepan with a mugful of the cooking water, and boil for 5 minutes.

Place all the husks and flesh into a food processor, and slowly pulse a few times so that you have chunks of peel, but not a fine pulp. Pour this into the empty pan, and add both sugar and lemon juice. Using a sieve, strain in the liquid from the pips, then discard them. Bring to the boil gently, stirring all the time. Boil rapidly for about 15 minutes, then test by putting a spoonful on to a chilled saucer, and see if it wrinkles when pushed after a few seconds. When it does, it is set.

Sterilise the jars in the dishwasher, or microwave (3 minutes on full power with 1 tablespoon of water in each), or just very hot water, then dry immediately with a clean tea towel. Ladle the marmalade into the jars, cover with a wax disc, and screw the lid on tight. Label them, store in a dark place, and enjoy on your toast.

In case there is marmalade hanging around from last year, use it up in this Chocolate orange steamed sponge. Of course, the bought stuff works well, too. One variation is to use 1 tablespoon of ground ginger instead of the cocoa.

3 tablespoons marmalade

125g (4 oz) unsalted butter,

softened

125g (4 oz) self-raising flour

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

125g (4 oz) caster sugar

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons milk

Butter a 1-litre (1½-pt) pudding basin (with a lip is best), and spoon the marmalade into the bottom. Whizz all the remaining ingredients together to a dropping consistency. Pour this mixture into the basin.

Grease a rectangle of foil and fold a pleat into it. Place this on top of the basin, butter side down, and fold over the edges, securing with an elastic band. Place into a large saucepan with lid, and pour in boiling water to two-thirds up the side.

Cover and steam for a good two hours. To serve, loosen the edges of the sponge with a knife, and invert on to a plate - paired, naturally, with custard.

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