A Final Taste of Summer: Rose-scented Strawberry Tarts

Strawberry tart

We came back from holiday to a late burst of summer sun which meant that the return to “normal life” wasn’t as bad as it could have been. However the boots and jumpers are now out of the wardrobe, the final flush of roses are starting to die off and rain is currently hammering against the kitchen window. It’s only a matter of time before we clear out the veg and fruit beds in preparation for winter. So it’s time for a tasty fruit tart to try and recapture those summer memories.

Strawberry tarts - cases I came up with this tart to use some of my rose petal jelly . The pastry base is a Pate Sucree recipe from the Leith’s Baking Bible (if you’re into Baking it’s worth getting a copy as pretty much every baking technique or recipe you could want is in here). I didn’t follow the method precisely and ended up just bringing all the ingredients together on my worktop as you would for pasta. The important thing here is to chill once the mix is brought together and then chill again once you’ve put it into the pastry cases. I didn’t trim until after this second chilling when I then cut it along the rim of the cases before blind baking. As you can see there was no shrinkage (hurrah!).

Strawberry tarts - creme patI left these to cool whilst I did the creme patisseire. Again this was a Leith’s recipe with the addition of a couple of drops of rose water, rather than vanilla extract, once the custard had been made. It’s important to taste at this stage – you can always add a bit more flavour if you think it needs it. Again chill and when you’re ready to use give it a quick beat before carefully folding in the whipped cream and putting into the pastry cases.

Strawberry tart - preglaze

I then arranged half strawberries on top of the creme pat before making the glaze. This was a couple of heaped tablespoons of rose petal jelly which I heated in a pan with a splash of lemon juice. Once it was thin I used it to glaze the tarts using a silicon brush. The tarts were then chilled until ready to serve.

The rose petal jelly and rose water just gives the tarts a hint of that summery rose fragrance which works really well with the strawberries. A definite splash of summer for a rainy day.

Strawberry tarts - final

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The Village Show

preserves for show

Each year our local branch of the Women’s Institute host the Village Show – a display of local home grown and home made produce. And this year I actually entered something, after being “encouraged” by LSH – my redcurrant curd and rose petal jelly.

I was slightly nervous about doing this. After all the WI are the font of all knowledge where preserves are concerned. I suspect that many of them come out of the womb knowing how to make the perfect raspberry jam! I certainly wasn’t holding out any hope for the redcurrant curd – this batch was definitely on the “soft set” side and whilst pretty and tasty I didn’t think it was WI standard. And indeed it came away empty handed beaten by an array of lemon curds.

So it all rested on the rose petal jelly which was competing against about five or six other jellies, mostly of the redcurrant variety. I approached the bench nervously. Would it be too radical for the WI? How would it compare with those made by people with years of jelly making experience? I hadn’t been this nervous since my degree results….

rose petal jelly

And it won! I am so excited. The comments on the back of my card were “lovely clear jelly with unusual flavour”. So if you want to eat your own “prize winning rose petal jelly” you can find the recipe here.

In the meantime I am just going to stick my certificate in pride of place on the fridge door before having a celebratory glass of bramble gin!

Easy Rose Petal Jelly

rose petal jelly

As I type this post the rain is hammering down outside and we definitely seem to be moving into Autumn. A few days ago it was bright and sunny though so I was harvesting again in the garden to make more preserves. But this time I had a more floral crop in mind – my old English roses.

Rose

I adore these old English roses with their heady scent and big frilly flowers. We have a few of these in the garden and at this time of year they are coming into bloom with their second (and final) flush of blossoms. Hot on the success of my redcurrant jelly I thought I’d have a go at rose petal jelly to try and preserve my roses for a little while longer.

This is a really easy recipe as you only need to remember one simple equation – volume of petals in a jug = volume of water = weight of jam sugar. Dead easy. All you then need to add is the juice of one lemon for every 500ml of water.

Rose petals in jug

You want scented roses for this as this is what is going to give the flavour for your finished jelly. And you need to make sure that you haven’t sprayed them with anything.  Cut you blooms and carefully pull the petals from the flowers. Make sure that you pick through them to remove any creepy crawlies that might be lurking (you want rose petal jelly – not rose petal jelly with speaks of insects…).

Put them into a measuring jug and lightly press down to compact them slightly. You don’t want to squash them but you do want a reasonably accurate idea of the volume. Whatever mark it comes to, that’s how much water you add and that’s how much jam sugar you need in grammes.

Rose petals

Put the petals into a pan and add the water. Bring up to a simmer and leave for about 5 min until all of the colour has come out of the petals and into the water. Drain through a seize, pressing the petals to try and get all the liquid from them. The colour will look a bit anaemic at this point but don’t panic – this will all change.

Put the liquid into a clean pan and add the lemon juice. You should see the colour immediately become more vibrant (the final colour will depend on the colour of your roses). Put back on the heat and gradually add the sugar, stirring all the time until it is completely dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil rapidly for about 8 minutes until it reaches setting point. If you have a jam thermometer this is easy as it’s ready once it hits 105C. If not you need to take it off the heat and put a teaspoon of jelly onto an ice cold saucer and see if it crinkles when it cools. If it doesn’t bring it back to be boil for another few minutes.

rose petal jelly 2

Once it’s ready, pour into warm sterilised jars.

You should have a delicate sweet jelly a taste not dissimilar to Turkish delight. Delicious on scones or in my case eaten straight out of the jar!