The hankering I had for some marmalade on fresh bread on Sunday last was satisfied a bit later by simply making some. It was a lot of fun. I always like making bread as it relaxes me a bit, and is such a simple thing to do for the huge reward of the fresh bread baking smell through the house, the taste of fresh-baked bread, and of course the supply of excellent sandwich-making material for days to come. I made mine with about 2/3 whole wheat flour to 1/3 unbleached all-purpose, opting for a boule shape this time, baked on a round pizza oven stone. Here’s a couple of before and later shots of the first rising stage after kneading. I used a fairly standard bread recipe, starting from dried yeast. (Yes, I do think of models of expanding spacetime (such as is happening to our universe) when I set bread to rise. I can’t help it. Actually, yeast is a rather good model of the still-mysterious dark energy – the apparent intrinsic propensity spacetime has to want to get further expand.)
Yes, I’m not – as you might guess – a bread machine person. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I dig my hands in and really become one with the dough for a while. That’s almost the whole point of the exercise, for me, so I would not like to give that pleasure away to a machine.
The marmalade was made from the navel oranges I showed you earlier (I got them from the Hollywood Farmer’s market), with a few other touches, working up a variation of a recipe I found online in a piece by Connie Allfrey. Don’t stress the proportions at all. This is mostly an intuitive process. You’ll recall this, perhaps, from the fig jam preparations I’ve described here in the past. I had about 5 pounds of them, and after washing them, cut them in half and covered them in water in a big pan (actually, two big pans) and let them simmer for a while (about 40 minutes). There’s a single precious Meyer lemon from my garden in there too, one half in each pan. I then poured off the water, reserving it for later, and scooped out the pulp from each half. This comes out quite readily with a dessert spoon and the boiling has softened them perfectly. I sieved the pulp through a strainer, rubbing back and for with a wooden spoon to get out as much of the juice and the white stuff (the parts of the membranes and so forth that contain a most valuable substance for the process – pectin) as possible. Er… what comes out of the bottom of the sieve is what you keep… the rest is off to the compost heap.
I cut the soft orange skins to long medium-sized strips because I like that shape in my marmalade. Pick your size and shape according to your wants and needs, of course. I chopped a large-thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger into small squares to add to the flavour as well. I did not add the lemon skin, although the pulp was used in the pulp sieving process above. Then, the skins, pulp sievings, ginger, and half the boil water go back into a heavy pot with a stick of cinnamon, and about 3 pounds of lightly coloured sugar. I used turbinado sugar. Then, as you recall me discussing for polenta, the rest is patience. About 1.75 – 2 hours of slow stirring, and not being tempted to put the fire high to speed things up. (If you did, you’d burn yourself from the super-heated splats that jump out of the pan at the later stages anyway, and risk a burnt sugar taste in the whole batch.)
Start testing for doneness about 1 hr 40 say, spooning a little into cold water and seeing if it sets. When setting is happening, decide how viscous you want your marmalade. If you want it very spreadable, stop immediately, turning off the heat. Another minute or two and it’ll be teasingly resistive (that’s how mine is), and five minutes beyond that is probably too much – you’re making window glass, which is not so manageable. Heat off, I stirred in a small measure of a single malt whisky (Glenmorangie) I happen to have to hand and let it boil off with a delicious smell, leaving a wonderful Scottish highland flavour frozen into the marmalade, lurking there to later help unlock memories.
Between stirrings I prepared some jars by sterilizing them in boiling water, lids and all. Handle them with tongs that you’ve put into the hot water too, and while bottling (why do people call this canning when no cans are involved?) get nothing in contact with the interior of the jars that has not been at high temperature.