Here’s a little secret: I’m probably not a better baker than you are. I just said “yes” when asked if I wanted to write a food column.
Part of the reason I decided to do this, though, is to push myself into cooking things I might not try if it were not my job to do it.
Case in point, jam.
Jam isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to make (the jam I made has only four ingredients), but it is time-consuming.
You have to let the berries and sugar meld together over several hours; you have to keep an eye on it while it cooks to make sure it’s reaching the right temperature and actually jelling together; and you have to let the jarred jam sit in hot water and do all sorts of things.
Now, would I have done this if I didn’t have a column due and needed to figure out how to impress you people?
Probably not. But holy cow, am I glad that I did.
Y’all, I want to put this jam on top of everything.
As a matter of fact, I have. I made blueberry scones and put the jam on that.
I made some lemon poppy seed bread (also delicious and the recipe is included, you are welcome) and put the jam on top of that.
I also just scoop it out of the jar with a spoon and eat it by itself.
But look at me now — making jam like a pro and impressing all of my friends on Instagram.
This whole weekend was a chance to grow my baking skills. As I said in my previous column, I recently found out I have a gluten and a dairy intolerance, so this column also is forcing me to find ways to make things without gluten taste like they have gluten in them.
For instance, I had no idea what xanthan gum was until this weekend.
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It’s a food additive that helps thicken and stabilize gluten-free foods, and it’s a game changer.
Now, I’m off to figure out what to make next month so I can continue to look like I know what I’m talking about.
Also, if you want to follow along in the adventures (and you like pictures of cats), follow me on Instagram @crkeenan.
- 2 pints strawberry
- 1 pint raspberries
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 lemons
Wash berries and drain thoroughly. Hull strawberries and discard their hats.
Combine berries with sugar and let stand for 3 to 4 hours.
Bring berries to a boil slowly, stirring occasionally. Add juice of two lemons.
Cook rapidly over medium heat for 15 minutes until the syrup thickens.
Ladle berry preserves into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch head space. Do not place lids on jars.
Bring pot of water to boil and put jars in a nice hot bath for about 10 minutes. Remove and add lids. Put jam on top of everything.
Source: Recipe modified from thespruce.com
Lemon Poppyseed Bread
- 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon of xanthan gum — omit if flour blend already contains it
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons poppyseeds
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 lemon — zest and juice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.
Mix together flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add lemon zest, sugar and poppyseeds.
In a separate bowl, mix together coconut milk, eggs, vegetable oil, lemon juice and vanilla.
Combine wet and dry ingredients.
Transfer batter to pan and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour.
Let cool completely. Eat with jam.