The Precious Gift of Jam
Posted by the Cake Shop
Jam can be such an intense pleasure. While not a food that stands on its own, it’s by no means a mere ingredient – it’s an invitee whose appearance heightens and brightens any assembly. A light smear over salted butter on sourdough rye; a glaze for roast veg; a spoonful in tea to eke out the pleasure – where’s our samovar?
I feel like a late-comer to jam-making, but the truth is I’ve always been jam-adjacent. The houses in the outer suburbs where I grew up had big back yards where people grew plums, apples and lemons, and it always fell to my dad to pluck the overflowing bounty from the high branches. I loved going on those fruit adventures, and helping to distribute our harvest among the jam-makers of the neighbourhood – most of them poker playing pals of my gran. Gran made the most wonderful dishes with those fruits – including her legendary sponge cake with plum jam layers, a recipe that lives on in the Cake Shop as Nana’s sponge.
Later, after moving to London I worked for Maison Blanc, where my new work family bombarded me with everything French – and introduced me to a whole new world of preserves and gelées. Now, every time I visit certain friends in Paris, I stock up; I’ve learned that their local Monoprix stocks a delicate rose petal gelée that suits a martini or a light buttery cupcake like no-one’s biz.
In recent years I’ve somehow managed to surround myself with friends who are jam purists – such as Meh, an award winning marmalade-maker. Every year she makes small batches of intense, flavoursome marmalade, and receiving a pot is like being handed a crock of gold. Part of the magic of the small batch production is that there’s only ever so much before it’s gone – in the words of Janis, you’ve got to get it while you can.
Now it’s December, and we wholeheartedly believe that sweetness and tea are key points in the winter survival guide.
We’ve been making a spiced plum jam with the fruit leftover from making our plum liquor. Roasted plums are added to a bath of spiced red wine and left to sit for 20 days. Then we add brandy to the liquid to make a restorative drink, and with the remaining plums we make a rich jam.Right now, this jam is showing up on our menu in all kinds of different forms – in Jess’s jam drop cookies; as a sweet stir-in for a pot of smokey vanilla tea; and, of course, as a layer in Nana’s sponge.
We’re also making vegan Christmas cakes due to high demand! Email us or give us a ring on 020 7269 9045 to order for local pickup or delivery. Cakes are priced at £25 or £35.