It is Seville orange season, the brief few weeks at the end of January and early February when these thick skinned inedible-when-raw oranges should be celebrated. And the best way I know of celebrating them is with a steamy afternoon in the kitchen making a vat of marmalade. I adore marmalade and like it nice and sharp, the bits neither too big nor too slight. Sadly, I have been so snowed under in the early part of the year that I have found no time to make any for myself. Happily for me then that my lovely ‘cooking buddy’ Jo made a batch and presented me with a jar yesterday.
Marmalade is so absolutely perfect for breakfast, you have to envy the clever devil who invented it. It is sweet enough to give the sugar kick so needed first thing in the morning, but sharp and tart enough to wake up the taste buds and bring you alive. When teamed with a decent coffee it really is the perfect pick me up.
As much as I love it on toast, I am often thinking of other ways to showcase its charms. The recipe below is for mini marmalade Bakewell’s - a sweet treat I created for a winter party a couple of years ago. But with my recently acquired jar from Jo I have just spent an hour or so recreating it with my little girl Eve. This time measuring, weighing and timing as I went along so I could write a recipe that others could follow. So much of my cooking is done form my head that it takes huge discipline for me to cook like this. The pastry was initially a disaster and kept falling apart - these things happen to all of us from time to time - but after a bit of cussing and then walking away for a few minutes, we managed to resurrect it into something rather crumbly and delicious.
Mini marmalade Bakewells
Makes 12 mini tarts
What you need:
250g shortcrust pastry, either good quality readymade, or make you own with 160g plain flour & 80g unsalted butter
150g unsalted butter
150g ground almonds
150g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
12 scant tsp marmalade, either homemade or good quality brought stuff
50g flaked almonds
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 180oC/gas 4. Prepare a 12 hole jam-tart tin by greasing with a little butter, set aside.
Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface until it is approximately 3mm thick. Leave to rest for a few minutes whilst you prepare the filling.
In a food processor, pulse together the butter, ground almonds and sugar until they resemble fine crumbs. Add the eggs and blend to a thick paste.
Cut out 12 circles from the pastry and gently line the tart tin. If your pastry cracks and crumbles, as mine did, don’t despair, just patch it up best you can. Sometimes I find the worst looking pastry ends up tasting the best. Sometimes the best policy is to walk away and leave it alone for a few minutes to allow both you and the pastry to relax. It worked for me!
Place a scant teaspoon of marmalade in the base of each tart - don’t be too generous, you need room for the filling. Add a dessertspoonful of filling to each, and level with a spoon. You can fill right to the top, it won’t grown much in the oven. You may find you have a little filling left over, it freezes brilliantly, so save it for those times when you find you have a little spare pastry and make yourself a quick treat.
Sprinkle a few flaked almonds on top of each to make them look pretty and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes until golden brown on top. Allow to cool a little in the tin before transferring to a cooling rack. I really like to eat these cold, but feel free to eat them warm if you prefer.