Caught by the River

Marmalade Cake

25th February 2008

Cake plays a very important part in fishing. It’s pretty much guaranteed that, after the ritual recitation – “I reckon it’s gonna be a good day today” – has been made and agreed with by all, that the next words my pals say are: “Has Wendy made a cake?”.

When fishing with friends, stopping for tea to talk about the ones that got away is a lovely bankside tradition and a cake is the perfect accompaniment. It can be for celebratiion or it can be for comfort. The Marmalade cake, below, has been my source of solace over the last couple of months.

As you know, at Caught By The River we don’t believe you should keep the good things all to yourself (ok, Mr Yates, you’ve earned the secret river), so In the spirit of “pass it on…”, Wendy, our resident Queen of Cakes, has agreed to do a regular column and make the world a better place.

Marmalade Cake

Seville oranges are in season for a short time from December to February and are great for making marmalade. They are now grown throughout the Mediterranean region and many are exported to Britain. They have a thick, rough skin and bitter taste and so are not used as eating oranges. However, they have a higher level of pectin than sweet oranges which makes them great for making marmalade as it helps it to set.

Marmalade has been made since the 16th century, originally with quinces – the name derives from the portugese word marmilo (which means quince).

However, the first marmalade factory is believed to have been built by a Scottish family in 1797. The story goes that at the end of the 18th century, James Keiller, a grocer from Dundee, heard about a shipment of Seville oranges on a Spanish ship which was taking refuge from a North Sea storm in the Tay Estuary.

Due to being delayed by the weather, the oranges were past their best and so the grocer was able to strike a bargain. He wasn’t able to sell them in his shop as they were far from fresh and tart in flavour, so he gave them to his wife Janet. She experimented with the sour and bitter oranges, added sugar to help preserve them and made marmalade.

One version of the story suggests a different origin of the name. Janet’s son is said to have been carrying the fruit up from the beach, with his Scottish mother yelling at him –

‘’Mair, ma lad!’’

Making marmalade doesn’t have to be complicated and you don’t have to make it on an industrial scale. For each Seville orange that you use, you get about a jar of preserve, so you can make as much or as little as you like. You just need to use double the weight of sugar to fruit and also the juice of a lemon for each kilo of fruit (about five or six oranges).

Cover the oranges in water and boil for two hours. Let them cool in the pan and then, (saving the orange water) halve them and scrape out the pulp and pips. Separate the pips, return to the water and boil for 15 mins to extract the pectin. Drain, discard the pips and keep the liquid. Meanwhile, shred the orange peel and then return to the water in the pan with the pulp, lemon juice and finally the sugar.

Slowly bring to the boil and cook for about 25 mins until set. To test for this put a spoonful on a cold plate and when it’s cool, prod it. If it wrinkles then it’s ready.

Let the marmalade rest for 15 mins before putting in jars, and wait for it to fully cool before putting the lids on.

100g butter

50g caster sugar

50g light muscovado sugar

3 eggs (beaten)

zest and juice of an orange

100g marmalade

75g self raising flour

75g ground almonds

1 tbsp milk

50g icing sugar

Cream the butter and sugar and then gradually add the eggs. If they begin to curdle stir in a spoonful of flour. Add the marmalade and orange zest and then the flour and ground almonds. If needed, add a tablespoon of milk.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf tin and bake at 170c for 30 mins. Cover with foil and bake for a further 10 mins. Leave to cool in the tin.

When cool, mix 50g of icing sugar with a tablespoon of orange juice and drizzle over the top.