From the jaws of defeat comes ice cream….

Bramble curd ice cream

I know – why am I blogging about ice cream when I’ve just dug my woolly tights out for the first time this autumn? But there is a very good reason. Honest….

We are at the height of bramble season and this year has been one of the best for a while. LSH is continuing with his brambling expeditions and is bringing home tubs of them.(I think it’s his inner hunter/ gatherer coming out). Some are stashed in the freezer waiting for my apples to ripen. Others are fermenting in a large jar of gin. Some were turned into a soft squidgy bramble cake. But this batch I decided to turn into curd.
Bramble curd
I was happily stirring my bramble and egg mix when I suddenly realised I’d failed to add the sugar or butter! I frantically mixed, seived and heated but in my panic I’d added too much sugar and whilst the result was a beautiful dark purple colour with a good consistency it was far too sweet and any hint of bramble was just overpowered by it.

Then I had a flash of inspiration ice cream! That needs to be sweeter in order to offset the cold – I just wouldn’t need to add any extra sugar to the mix. I needed to add yoghurt (to offset the sweetness) and cream and it might just be saved.

So that’s what I did . To my 230g of bramble curd I added 200g of Greek yoghurt and 130g of double cream.

I beat them together in a bowl until well mixed. Then I poured it into an ice cream maker and churned until frozen.

Curd and ice cream

What I ended up with was a beautiful pastel lilac colour ice cream. The cream and yoghurt cut through the sweetness wonderfully leaving a light blackberry flavour. Not quite seasonal but I can always serve it with a slice of hot apple pie.

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Redcurrant and Orange Meringue Cake

Cake- day

I don’t usually do cake, as even the most cursory glance at this blog will show. But this weekend we had the inlaws for dinner and I was in charge of pudding. So I have faced my cake demons and have actually baked one (I’m blaming my recent Bake Off binges for thinking that this might be a good idea….).

I wanted to use the redcurrant curd that I’d made earlier but I wanted to make something a bit snazzier than a victoria sandwich. I eventually stumbled upon this – Nigella Lawson’s lemon meringue cake. You can find the recipe here

It’s a twist on a lemon meringue pie but with sponge instead of pastry. Nigella’s version has lemon juice and zest mixed into the sponge mix, but as I was using redcurrant curd I decided to go for orange instead and so added the zest of one orange along with 5 tsp of orange juice (the mix looked a bit dry). Once you’ve added the thin layer of sponge to each sandwich tin you then pop the meringue on top.
cake - Straight from the oven

In one tin it’s smoothed flat to form the base of the cake, and in the other it’s pulled up into peaks and scattered with sugar to create a more impressive top. It’s baked once a skewer comes out clean which doesn’t take long (I’ve hidden the slightly burnt edge of the base off the top of the photo…). Removing the bottom tin wasn’t too much of a problem but I was a bit worried about squashing the carefully constructed peaks of the top – I think a loose bottomed tin would be distinctly less stressful than trying to delicately handle fragile peaks of meringue!

Cake

The whole thing was then sandwiched together sponge sides in with whipped double cream and redcurrant curd. Obviously I added more curd than the recipe said only to see it start to slide Vesuvius like over the side of the cake – not quite the look I was going for! So in order to try and deflect attention from the curd avalanche I sprinkled some pink sugar on top.

I was a bit worried about this as it wasn’t the neatest of cakes but taste wise it was a massive hit with everyone raving about it. The in laws even took doggy bags of slices home with them. And it was even better the next day when the filling had had more time to set. Cake for breakfast – what could be better!
Slice of cake

 

More preserves – Redcurrant Curd

redurrant curd  -final

I still had some of my redcurrant glut to use after making my redcurrant jelly. Last year I made Bramley Apple Curd so I decided that this year I would have a go at making a redcurrant version.

This is another easy preserve to make although it only keeps for about 4 weeks so you can’t make too much of it in one go. As with redcurrant jelly, you start off with making the redcurrant juice. Whilst you should give your fruit a quick wash you don’t need to take them off the stalks. Take 200g of fruit and add 80g of water. Bring the water and fruit to a simmer and leave until the fruit is soft and has released all its juices. This will take about 30mins. The fruit is strained to get all those lovely juices, but unlike jelly you can squish this through a sieve if you want.

redcurrant curd - mixYou want 200g of the juice. Put it in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Add 125g of unsalted butter and 450g of granulated sugar. Keep stirring until the butter has melted and the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour into a clean pan. Make sure the mixture isn’t too hot – you don’t want to cook the egg as soon as it hits the pan so it shouldn’t be any hotter than 55C.
 
 
redcurrant  - custard

Take 200g of beaten egg and pass through a sieve into the redcurrant mixture. Keep stirring over a medium heat until the mixture thickens into a rose coloured custard. It should be about 84C. Pour into warm sterilised jars.

 

 
I love this preserve – it’s such a beautiful dusky pink colour that beats any shop bought curd. It’s delicious in cakes or just spread on toast or indeed any use you have for lemon curd. As I made extra redcurrant juice I’ve decided to have a go at making redcurrant shrub – a traditional fruit liquor. It’s currently fermenting in the kitchen cupboard so I will report back later on how that one has turned out.