The streets of Seville and many of the villages in Andalucia are lined with orange trees. In Spring the fragrant perfume of the orange blossom fills the air in a most delicious way. At this time of the year when the ripe fruit hangs appetizingly from the branches and nestles against the shiny green leaves, one wonders why the beautiful oranges are not plucked by every passer by who might fancy a juicy orange to boost their vitamin C at this chilly time of the year. Well, the answer to the riddle is easy to understand when one discovers that these are Seville oranges – bitter oranges perfect for marmalade, but the Spaniards don’t like marmalade and think the British tradition of making this bitter sweet conserve is very curious and eccentric. On a recent trip to Seville I learned that the British Consul in Seville used to arrange to have them picked. The ex-pats would come to the Embassy and be presented with a New Year present of a basket of Seville oranges to make their own marmalade. The majority of the crop is exported, the Seville and Malaga oranges will appear in our shops only for the next few weeks, so rush out and buy them while they are still fresh. Choose bright unblemished fruit – if there’s even one tiny soft spot, the whole orange will be tainted, so don’t imagine you are getting a bargain. I adore making marmalade. There’s something about the smell which is so comforting and the result is so rewarding. The jars of marmalade with chunks of bitter peel shining through the jelly make me long for toast and butter to spread it on. Here we have some of my favourite recipes. Remember, it is crucial to cook the peel until really soft before adding the sugar – otherwise, no amount of cooking will soften it. By the time the peel is soft, the liquid should be reduced to between a third and half of its original volume – otherwise the marmalade will take ages to come to boiling point and lose its fresh taste. If you are daunted by the task of making enough marmalade for the coming year remember marmalade oranges freeze brilliantly. I’ve included a recipe which works brilliantly for whole oranges. I’ve also discovered some yummy recipes for Seville oranges so buy a few extra and experiment.
Seville Whole Orange Marmalade
(made with whole oranges)
Makes 13-15 lbs approx. You'll find Seville and Malaga oranges in the shops for just a few short weeks after Christmas. Buy what you need and make the marmalade while the oranges are fresh if possible. If not just pop them into the freezer, this recipe works brilliantly for frozen oranges, its not even necessary to defrost them. Some recipes slice the peel first but the majority boil the whole oranges first and then slice the peel. 2.2kg (42 lb) Seville or Malaga oranges (organic if possible) 5.1L (9pint) water 4kg (9 lb) sugar Wash the oranges. Put them in a stainless steel saucepan with the water. Put a plate on top to keep them under the surface of the water. Cover with the lid of the saucepan, simmer gently until soft, 2 hours approx. cool and drain, reserving the water. (If more convenient, leave overnight and continue next day.) Put your chopping board onto a large baking tray with sides so you won't lose any juice. Cut the oranges in half and scoop out the soft centre. Slice the peel finely. Put the pips into a muslin bag. Put the escaped juice, sliced oranges and the muslin bag of pips in a large wide stainless steel saucepan with the reserved marmalade liquid. Bring to the boil and add the warm sugar, stir over a brisk heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Boil fast until setting point is reached. Pot in sterilized jars and cover at once. Store in a dark airy cupboard. With any marmalade its vital that the original liquid has reduced by half or better still two-thirds before the sugar is added otherwise it takes ages to reach a set and both the flavour and colour will be spoiled. A wide low-sided stainless steel saucepan is best for this recipe, say, 35.5 - 40.5cm (14-16inch) wide. If you don't have one around that size, cook the marmalade in two batches. Foolproof Food
Old Fashioned Seville Orange Marmalade
Seville and Malaga oranges come into the shops after Christmas and are around for 4-5 weeks.
Makes approx. 7 lbs (3.2kg) 2 lbs (900g) Seville Oranges 4 pints (2.3L) water 1 lemon 4 lbs (1.8kg) granulated sugar Wash the fruit, cut in half and squeeze out the juice. Remove the membrane with a spoon, put with the pips, tie them in a piece of muslin and soak for 2 hour in cold water. Slice the peel finely or coarsely, depending on how you like your marmalade. Put the peel, orange and lemon juice, bag of pips and water into a non-reactive bowl or saucepan overnight. Next day, bring everything to the boil and simmer gently for about 2 hours until the peel is really soft and the liquid is reduced by half. Squeeze all the liquid from the bag of pips and remove it. Add the warmed sugar and stir until all the sugar has been dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil rapidly until setting point is reached 5-10 minutes approx. Test for a set, either with a sugar thermometer (it should register 220F), or with a saucer. Put a little marmalade on a cold saucer and cool for a few minutes. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it's done. Allow marmalade to sit in the saucepan for 15 minutes before bottling to prevent the peel from floating. Pot into hot sterilized jars. Cover immediately and store in a cool dry dark place. N.B. The peel must be absolutely soft before the sugar is added, otherwise when the sugar is added it will become very hard and no amount of boiling will soften it.
225g (8oz) white flour ½ teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon baking powder 140g (5oz) caster sugar 85g (3oz) butter 1 free-range egg orange zest from 1 orange 170ml (6fl.oz) milk 8 teaspoons of Seville orange marmalade 1 muffin tray lined with muffin papers Icing sugar Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/regulo 6. Sieve the flour, salt, baking powder in a bowl. Stir in the sugar Rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Combine the beaten egg, orange zest and milk and add to the dry mixture. Combine with a fork to give a wet consistency. Spoon half the mixture into the muffin cases. Put a spoonful of marmalade on top of each one, top with the remainder of the mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well-risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar. Moorish Tart
Morish in every sense of the word – an ordinary orange may be substituted at other times of the year.
Pastry: 175g (6oz) plain flour 40g (1½ oz) icing sugar 125g (4½ oz) unsalted butter grated zest of 1 Seville orange (reserve the orange for the filling) 1 large egg, beaten Filling: 150g (5oz) dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa solids, broken into pieces 225ml (8fl.oz) double cream 4 large egg yolks 50g (2oz) golden castor sugar juice of 1 Seville orange 20cm (8inch) tart tin, greased. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/regulo 5 To make the pastry, process the flour, icing sugar, butter and orange zest in a food-processor to the breadcrumb stage or rub the ingredients together between your fingers. Add the beaten egg and mix until the pastry forms a ball. Wrap in greaseproof paper and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board and place it in the tart tin. Prick the base with a fork and cover it with baking parchment and baking beans, bake it blind for 20 minutes, then remove the beans and the paper and continue to bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Place the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of barely simmering water. To make the filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir the melted chocolate and cream together and then add the egg mixture. Replace the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and stir until the mixture thickens. Add the orange juice and stir for about 2-3 minutes or until the mixture thickens again. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Pour into the cooked pastry case and chill until set.
Orange Mousse with Chocolate Wafers
2 oranges (12 if very large) 4 eggs (preferably free-range) 22 ozs (70g) castor sugar 3 oz (8g) gelatine (2 rounded teaspoons) 3 tablespoons water 1 lemon 8 fl ozs (230ml) whipped cream 4 tablespoons marmalade Chocolate Wafers 2 ozs (55g) best quality dark chocolate Decoration 2 tablespoons marmalade 8 fl ozs (230ml) whipped cream A pinch of castor sugar Wash and dry the oranges; grate the rind on the finest part of a stainless steel grater. Put into a bowl with 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks and the castor sugar. Whisk to a thick mousse, preferably with an electric mixer. Put 3 tablespoons of water in a little bowl, measure the gelatine carefully and sprinkle over the water. Leave to >sponge= for a few minutes until the gelatine has soaked up the water and feels spongy to the touch. Put the bowl into a saucepan of simmering water and allow the gelatine to dissolve completely. All the granules should be dissolved and it should look perfectly clear. Meanwhile, squeeze the juice from the 2 oranges and 1 lemon, measure and if necessary bring up to 2 pint (300ml) with water. Stir a little of the juice into the gelatine and then mix well the remainder of the juice. Gently stir this into the mousse; cool in the fridge, stirring regularly. When the mousse is just beginning to set around the edges, fold in the softly whipped cream and finely chopped marmalade. Whisk the 2 egg whites stiffly and fold in gently. Pour into a glass bowl or into individual bowls. Allow to set for 3-4 hours in the fridge. Meanwhile make the chocolate wafers. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water. Stir until quite smooth. Spread on a flat piece of heavy, white notepaper or light card. Put into a cold place until stiff enough to cut in square or diamond shapes. While the chocolate is setting, make the orange-flavoured cream. Grate the rind from half an orange, add to the cream and add a pinch of castor sugar to taste. Decorate the top of the mousse with some rosettes of orange-flavoured cream and a blob of marmalade. Peel the chocolate wafers off the card and use them to decorate the edges of the mousse.
I found this cake in Julie Duff’s book, ‘Cakes – Regional and Traditional’. Although she wrote that it can be found on the shelves of many of Ireland’s truly excellent baker’s shops, I’ve never come across it – sounds as if its worth a try. Julie says that the best cakes are made with one of the stronger types of orange marmalade such as chunky orange or whiskey orange marmalade. Do not be tempted to add ‘a little extra’ as this will change the consistency of the cake and may make it very heavy. 115g (4oz) butter 115g (4oz) soft brown sugar 115g (4oz) marmalade 225g (8oz) self raising flour 2 large eggs 115g (4oz) sultanas Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/regulo 3 Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and then add the remaining ingredients, stirring thoroughly with a wooden spoon, until well mixed. Spoon into a greased and lined 900g/2lb loaf tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about 1½ hours or until well risen, golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out cleanly. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. When cold, this cake is excellent sliced and buttered. Hot Tips Seville oranges freeze well, so if using straight from the freezer grate the zest before thawing. The work of the Organic Centre in Rosinver, Co Leitrim has been boosted by the agreement of a two year sponsorship with SuperValu, worth €50,000 it was recently announced. SuperValu intends to work on consumer awareness campaigns with the Organic Centre and use its expertise in identifying market opportunities for the supply of locally grown organic foods to the 180 independent SuperValu supermarkets countrywide. For full details of courses at the Organic Centre, Tel. 071-9854338 or www.theorganiccentre.ie