We take a look at jam and compote from the Bonne Maman range. Our reviewer was Sara Walker.
“I actually buy very little jam, as I like to make my own. I was interested in trying the wild blueberry conserve, £2.79 from Bonne Maman, though, as that’s not a flavour I’d make myself. I wouldn’t make it at home, mostly because blueberries are expensive to buy in sufficient bulk in the UK.
“The flavour was very good, although I personally found the texture a little hard set. Blueberries contain high natural levels of pectin, which means it’s easy to reach that jelly-like consistency needed to set jam, and I personally prefer a slightly runnier jam. To really put it through its paces, though, I decided to try out one of the suggested recipes from the Bonne Maman website, the lemon and wild blueberry swirl cake.
The suggested Bonne Maman recipe listed butter, sugar, eggs, self-raising flour, ground almonds, wild blueberry conserve and the zest of an unwaxed lemon. The method involved making the cake, then piping the jam along the top so that it sunk in slightly. As always, I decided to put my own twist on things by altering the recipe slightly. Instead of lemon rind, I added the zest of two organic oranges. I didn’t have any ground almonds in, so I improvised with an equal quantity of polenta. I use this in sponge-type cakes a lot when I want a slightly denser texture, and it works well. So that left me with:
Orange, polenta and wild blueberry cake recipe
- 175g butter, softened
- 175g sugar
- 3 free-range eggs
- 200g self-raising flour
- 25g polenta
- 4 tbsp Bonne Maman wild blueberry conserve
- Grated zest of 2 organic oranges (reserve the juice of 1)
What to do:
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and baseline a two pound loaf tin, and set aside.
- Cream together the butter and the sugar, either using a mixer or by hand. Add in the eggs, and beat to mix. Beat in the flour, polenta and orange zest and mix well to combine.
- Spoon 3/4 mixture into the prepared tin. (Bonne Maman pipe their conserve onto the top of the cake. I was a little worried about the top burning, so I elected to put my jam towards the bottom of the cake which it promptly sank through. Experimentation shows that the optimum is to put in 3/4 of the mix, then add the jam, then just cover it with batter!)
- Add sparing spoonfuls of jam in a line along the middle of the cake, taking care that it doesn’t touch either side or the ends of the tin.
- Add the remaining cake batter to completely cover the jam, and smooth out the top with the back of a spoon.
- Bake for about 40 minutes until well risen and golden. If it gets too brown on top you might have to cover the top with greaseproof paper while the rest of the cake catches up.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 10 to 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Remove the greaseproof paper, and use a skewer to punch holes right through the cake. Stand the cake on a plate or tray and pour over the reserved orange juice.
The finished cake was absolutely delicious – citrussy, tangy, a slight bite from the polenta and moist from the orange juice. The slightly hard texture of the jam was ideal for cooking with, as a runnier jam would have made a bit of a mess! Considering how expensive blueberries are, I thought this nicely-flavoured jam was good value for money and the attractive jar will find a range of uses when empty.
Now, onto the compote! I’m not a big fan of bought compotes as they tend to be really sweet, and this apricot compote, £2.99 from Bonne Maman, was indeed a bit too sugary for me. Otherwise, though, it was packed full of apricots and had a nice, bright colour. Again, I decided to put it through its paces with a recipe.
Incredibly simple apricot and apple crumble recipe
As I always have prepared, raw cooking apples in the freezer from my own very prolific tree, having a jar of apricot compote in the cupboard means I can whip this up in about two minutes flat. If you have to prep the apples from scratch it will take a little longer. These quantities serve four.
- 2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces
- Bonne Maman apricot compote
- 60g butter, softened
- 60g sugar, plus extra to taste
- 80g plain flour
- 40g porridge oats
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat the over to 200 degrees C.
- Put the apples in a pan with a little water, and simmer until soft. (Alternatively, you can put them in a covered, microwave-proof bowl and cook them on high for two minutes.) Add four good tablespoons of compote, mix and taste. I didn’t add any extra sugar at this stage, but if you want to then now’s the time!
- Divide the mixture into four ramekins.
- Mix together the butter and flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar, cinnamon and oats. Spread the crumble mix on top of the fruit in the ramekins, put them all on a baking tray for ease and bake for around 12 to 15 minutes until the crumble is golden on top. Serve with cream or custard.
Although I wouldn’t eat it every day, I think this compote will be perfect to have on standby in the cupboard for whipping up quick puddings – it would also be great with a sponge topping, or with some plain yogurt. I’d definitely buy it again.
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