Inspired by the new series of `The Great British Bake Off’ I decided to make a swiss roll. Now I knew if I was going to bake in the style of Bake-Off I needed to make my own jam. Mr Smiles’ favourite jam is apricot and as apricots are in season at the moment apricot preserve seemed like a good choice.
I am a bit confused about the terms jam, conserve and preserve. I thought preserve was just a posh word for jam. The terminology for preserve making is confusing. One person’s conserve is another person’s jam!
Jam – a thick mixture of fruit and sugar that is boiled gently but quickly until the fruit is soft and has a gel consistency. Jam should be clear, well set but not stiff and should be spreadable. It should have a distinctive fruity flavour and a good colour. Most people seem to agree that with jam the fruit has broken down during cooking.
Jelly – made by a process similar to that used for making jam, with the additional step of filtering out the fruit pulp after the initial heating. The whole fruit is gently cooked, then left to strain. The resulting juice is then boiled with sugar until a set is reached. A jelly is a clear fruit spread that is firm enough to hold its shape.
Preserves – fruit spreads that have chunks of fruit surrounded by jelly.
Conserve – similar to jam but the set tends to be softer. They can contain dried fruit and/or nuts.
Marmalade – similar consistency to jam but made with citrus fruit and peel.
Apricot and Amaretto Preserve
2lb (900g) fresh apricots
2lb (900g) granulated sugar
Juice of 1 large lemon
Trace of butter
Large Dash of Amaretto liqueur
You need to start the day before you actually want to make the preserve. Halve the apricots and reserve the stones.
Place them in layers in a preserving pan, sprinkling the sugar in between the layers. Add the lemon juice, cover with a cloth and leave over-night.
Delia Smith says that `pre-soaking the fruit in sugar firms up the fruit, ensuring the apricot pieces stay intact when making the jam.’ I adapted this recipe from Delia’s Summer Collection. I must admit I had a dilemma at this point. My apricots were large! So did I continue to halve them or quarter them?! I stuck with halving. I would actually advise quartering if you pre-soak in sugar and have big, juicy apricots like mine.
Crack the apricot stones with a nutcracker and save the kernels. Blanch the kernels in boiling water for a couple of minutes.
Drain them, pat them dry and remove the outer skin. When I read this process I thought `What a palaver!’. I didn’t know the reason for using the kernels. I thought it was some mysterious ingredient which would aid the setting process. Then I learnt that apricot kernels are actually used as the main ingredient in amaretto liqueur. I thought amaretto was made of almonds. When I cracked open the apricot stones I got an aromatic waft of amaretto so I was converted to the idea of using the kernels. In fact I thoroughly embraced the idea and decided to turn my plain apricot jam into exotic amaretto preserve with apricot chunks and kernels.
To make the conserve place the preserving pan over a medium heat and let the sugar dissolve completely. When dissolved turn up the heat to the highest setting and boil rapidly. It took about 20 minutes to reach setting point.
Stir in a knob of butter to disperse any scum. Add the reserved kernels and allow to settle for 15 minutes before pouring into warm sterilised jars.
Apricot and Amaretto Swiss-Roll
3 large eggs
115g (4 oz) Caster sugar
115g (4 oz) Plain Flour
Apricot and Amaretto Preserve
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F, Gas Mark 6). Grease a 33 x 23cm (13 x 9 in) swiss roll tin and line with baking parchment. The tin suggested in the recipe was a swiss roll tin 13×9 inches. I had 3 tins – a baking silicone flexi-sheet 14 x 10.5, a brownie pan 13.5 x 8 and a heavy duty Swiss roll tin 12 x 8.5 and didn’t know which to use! Why is it that whenever you follow or adapt a recipe the size of the tin is always different to what you have! I read reviews on the silicone sheet and made the decision it was too big. I would have crispy burnt edges. The browny pan seemed a bit deep. So I went for the heavy duty swiss roll tin and just had a bit of left over mixture.
Put the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is very thick and pale, and leaves a trail on the surface when the beaters are lifted out. The eggs should be at room temperature. It’s thick enough when it’s about three times the volume.
Sift half the flour over the whisked mixture and gently fold it in with a large metal spoon. Sift over the remaining flour and fold in together with a tablespoon of tepid water. It is important to fold in the flour with a sure but light touch – you don’t want to undo all that good whisking by knocking out the air.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and give it a gentle shake so that the mixture spreads evenly into the corners. Bake for 10–12 minutes or until the sponge is well risen and pale golden, and springs back when pressed gently with your finger.
Turn out onto a sheet of baking parchment slightly larger than the sponge. Peel off the lining paper. Trim the crusty edges of the sponge with a sharp knife and make a score mark 2.5 cm (1 in) from one of the shorter edges (this will make the sponge easier to roll up).
Roll up loosely from the short side, with the paper inside, and place seam side down on a wire rack to cool.
When the sponge is cold, carefully unroll it and remove the paper.
Whip the cream with the vanilla extract and a few tablespoons of sifted icing sugar until the mixture forms soft peaks.
Now we get on to the fun bit! I chose to spread my apricot preserve on first and then spread the cream on top. I was too generous with my filling! It is a good idea to leave a border at the edge. When I came to roll up my sponge I had a tidal wave of cream and apricot jam all over the kitchen work top and beyond. I had to keep scraping up the mixture to try to roll the cake up. So the instruction to `Carefully roll up the sponge and place seam side down on a serving plate.’ was tricky!
A good swiss roll should be made of a light as air sponge. I do think I made a good sponge as it was light and moist. As Kate said on the Great British Bake Off `a dry sponge is never good!’.
However a well executed swiss roll should also have a tight, clearly defined roll. I was expecting a beautiful swirl of cream and golden apricot preserve. What I had was a sticky mess and no swirl!
No matter – I tidied up the ends, dusted with icing sugar and got creative with my camera! I must say the end result was not bad. I’m not sure Mary Berry would approve of my messy baking. However the end result was delicious even if I do say so myself!