Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Raspberries + Peaches = Summertime Bliss!

It's that time again...that time where I get the strange but incessant craving to stand over my jam pot in the heat of summer and turn out endless little jewel-toned jars of fruity sweetness. This latest jam session was triggered when I ran out of my peach ginger habanero chutney last week at the market, so I had to start with a batch of that. But I was really inspired by a gal called Miriam who lives in my old stomping grounds of Salt Lake City. I was first directed to her blog from the Bakerina's website. Apparently, they are knitting colleagues. I don't know from knitting myself, but Miriam's blog also dabbles in the culinary arts, and she is a passionate jam-maker in particular. Her signature jam is purple raspberry and peach which her loved ones refer to as "liquid crack" (tee hee), and she even won a blue ribbon at the Salt Lake County fair with it last year! Not that I am surprised. Is there anything more blissful than the summertime union of raspberries and peaches? NO, I say!

As you may already know, I make a fine berry and peach pie, and a few years ago, I remember making a decent raspberry-apricot jam. But this combination may be my favorite yet, edging out even my beloved blueberry-lime. Now I would be happy to share the recipe, but really, all you need to do is to follow the instructions for raspberry jam on whatever brand/type of pectin that you choose to use, but swap out one cup of peeled and chopped peaches for one cup of the raspberries. Also, I added a tablespoon of lemon juice per batch because it seemed like the right thing to do. For five cups of fruit total (using Sure Jell powdered pectin), I ended up with eight half-pint jars. The jam is just delicious, the texture and color are so lovely, and all of the jars had set up perfectly by the following morning. Now we'll have to wait and see if my customers at the market find this jam as enchanting as I do (fingers crossed)!

However, it's important to admit to my readership that successes in the kitchen are often balanced by failures. After making my favorite Sara Foster crumb cake for the market last week, I got to thinking that I should try the much-heralded CI version. And on the strength of many great reviews from people I trust, I went ahead and made a double batch to share some with my trivia team. But it was just DISASTROUS! The cake itself was wonderful--very fluffy and tender--but the crumbly topping (which is the whole reason that one makes a CRUMB cake!) was tooth-shatteringly inedible. Here was the problem: I didn't have enough cake flour, so I used all-purpose for the topping. BAD MOVE! So I ended up cutting the top off of the cake and using the bottom for strawberry shortcake. That helped soothe the pain of loss somewhat.

But the failure of the crumb cake created another painful problem, that is, what to make for trivia night? And I only had an hour to throw something together! So I defrosted a pound cake, made some Bird's custard with a vanilla bean added for good measure, bought some more of the beautiful raspberries that were on sale at Price Chopper this week (Plattsburghers, take note--they are two packages for four bucks!), and grabbed a can of whipped cream. I threw all of these bits into a cooler with ice packs and headed into town for our weekly game. I told them that since our team name is the Deconstruction Crew, that it was a deconstructed raspberry trifle! (They bought it!) I assembled each plate at the table, starting with two slices of pound cake, topped with the vanilla custard, then a generous handful of raspberries, and a good squirt of whipped cream to finish it off. It looked beautiful (things with fresh berries as a topping always do), and everyone "oohed" and "ahhed," and some even had second helpings. So crisis adverted there. But when I got home and told the tale, Cyd got jealous, so I had to make her a peach melba version of the same with both raspberries and peaches. See how pretty? (Trust me, there's cake and custard under there somewhere!) So get out there and make some luscious raspberry-peach combinations of your own, why don't you?


Miriam said...

YAY! I'd love to hear how it goes at the farmer's market! My jam creation could be world famous! I shall take over the universe!!! with JAM!!!!

Emily said...

I admire that you make your own jams. It's something that I haven't tried yet. I guess I'm afraid or something.

Joy Bugaloo said...

Hi, Miriam! I am honored that you stopped by my blog. Thanks again for the recipe. I can't wait to make some more later this summer with purple raspberries when they are ready. Yum!

And Emilie, you really should try to make some jam this summer when the different fruits are in season. Start with something simple--like strawberry right now--and just follow the instructions on the package of whichever pectin you use. It's hard to go wrong. Miriam has an excellent photo tutorial on the process: And I also recommend getting the Ball Blue Book Canning Guide. Very useful for beginners!

Happy jamming! --Gina