One of the most memorable things about my last trip to London was marmalade.
A happening of blissful coincidence, it all started at Hawksmoor with the most delectable marmalade pudding I have ever eaten. Comfortingly sticky and dense while outrageously light and spongy, picture it smothered in creme anglaise and this was truly the mother of all good desserts. From there it was on to some sweet gustatory bliss as offered by the Young Turks at Ten Bells, and on inquisition into the source of their most heavenly Seville concoction it was revealed to be none other than the delectable London Borough of Jam who, as it just so happened, was conveniently perched atop my statutory holiday 'to be headhunted' list.
Supplies were thus promptly acquired and I returned to Australia - jar of Seville marmalade in one hand, Hawksmoor cookbook nestled under the other - giddy with excitement and trying desperately to make both outlast summer so that they could be enjoyed properly and appropriately at the height of pudding season, as is one's want. But alas, to no avail, and after succumbing to the temptation of a flourish of new bakeries, as the frosty mornings finally settled in I was left contemplating my jar of sublime marmalade, empty.
Steeling myself to move on from the rues of a missed opportunity I then had the overly good fortune of catching up with the ever-wonderful S&S who, knowing full-well my various kitchen weaknesses, arrived at our NYC rendezvous with London Borough of Jam jars aplenty.
Oh happy days!
And so after a hot and humid week of Stateside overindulgence it was back to a grey and miserable Melbourne and straight in to the kitchen for marmalade pudding... with a difference.
You see, by this time Sevilles were no longer in season and so I received not your traditional rindy goodness, but the most heavenly lemon and vanilla marmalade imaginable. This, strewn through a perfectly light and spongy pud with a little whisky glaze and a dollop of cream is sublime, and most definitely up there on the list of personal all-time favourite ways to finish a good meal.
Coincidentally, while satisfying my marmalade pudding cravings I came across an interesting recipe for Shaker lemon pies which, with curiosity peeked, I just had to try.
The Shakers were a religious sect with a penchant for hard work and perfection who, among other things, were credited with the development of a unique range of architecture, furniture and inventions (the circular saw and clothes peg to name but a few). They were also a resourcefully frugal bunch with a reputation for good food that included a 'calendar of pies', which stemmed from their successful fruit growing abilities. One of said pies was the Shaker lemon pie that was traditionally made using whole lemons. With a preference for Meyer, these were sliced ever-so thinly and left to macerate in sugar for some time before being slathered in egg in what could be considered a bastardised curd, and then blanketed in rough puff and baked until crispy, golden and delicious.
I didn't use Meyers and can see that many people may find this too bitter, but personally I loved it and if you choose your lemons to taste, it makes an interesting and refreshing change from the standard lemon tart. While the rinds do soften with maceration they maintain a nice chewy bite that lends texture, and there was less of a tendency for this pie to seem overwhelmingly sweet. Delicate and delicious, and with such ease of preparation, this one's most definitely a keeper...