It’s recipe swap time again!
For those of you who are unfamiliar, this recipe swap is the brain child of Christianna at Burwell General Store. Every month, she selects one recipe from a vintage cookbook and sends it out to a group of food bloggers from all over the world. We’re each asked to reinterpret the recipe however we see fit, and then we all post our recreations on the same day.
For this swap, CM picked the old time recipe of Jelly Cake.
As I’ve said before a million (billion) times, I’m not a big sweets person. But, for the life of me, I couldn’t think of a savory application for Jelly Cake. My thoughts drifted to summer berries, jams, preserves, and syrups. CM specifically told us she picked this recipe in hopes that we’d be inspired by summer preserves, and she was spot on. I was THRILLED to have an excuse to make jam!
So when I saw that strawberries were still very much in season here in Oregon, I promptly bought a flat of strawberries from my farmer’s market and invited myself over to my mom’s house for a day of canning. I grew up making jam with my Grandma, and I must admit that my Grandma’s strawberry freezer jam is one of the best things I have ever, ever tasted.
But, for whatever reason, this time I didn’t set out to make my Grandmother’s jam. I think I was too afraid of messing up her recipe. I was scared it wouldn’t taste like the jam I remember so fondly from my childhood! So, then, I decided put my own spin on my childhood favorite: I made Strawberry Champagne Jam with Thyme.
I wasn’t sure how the alcohol would work with the jam, but I decided to give it a shot. I’d seen a few recipes online (so I knew it was possible), and it just sounded like such a wonderful combination. I worried and fretted as I made the jam, hoping that the champagne wouldn’t keep the jam from setting up properly. I stared at the jars of jam as they cooled, willing them to set up properly. When I opened up a jar the next day, I was pleased to see the jam had set up nicely. I was even more pleased to discover that the jam tasted fantastic. However, I was totally and completely taken aback by the fact that his jam somehow tasted exactly like my Grandma’s strawberry jam. Let it be known that my Grandma does not put champagne or thyme in her jam. I have no idea how my jam ended up tasting so much like hers! There isn’t a lot of thyme or champagne in the jam, so I think these flavors paled in comparison to the natural fruity flavors of the strawberries. Try as I might to make my own version, I still ended up with a jam that was a lot like my Grandmas. I couldn’t be happier!
So, then, what do you do when you have 11 jars of delicious strawberry jam? First, you spread some on a piece of toast and happily devour it. Then, you make another piece of toast and devour that piece as well. Then, you give away a couple of jars to your friends and family.
Then…you make jam thumbprints!
I love thumbprint cookies, and this seemed like the perfect way to feature the jam. In addition, this cookie is such a classic old recipe, and it really seemed to fit well within the realm of jelly cake. The cookies were bright, fun, flavorful, and captured so many of my favorite flavors of summer.
As always, I had a great time participating in the recipe swap. I am thankful to Christianna for giving me the excuse to make my first jam of the summer (there will be many more to come, I hope!). Make sure you stop by the Recipe Swap page at Burwell General store, and be sure to visit all the other fantastic blogs to see what they came up with for the swap!
Strawberry Champagne Jam with Thyme
(Adapted from Recipe Circus)
(Note: The champagne and thyme flavors are very subtle in this jam. Feel free to experiment with the measurements to reach your desired flavor profile. Also, this jam is a bit runny. If you want a firm jam that sets up completely, I would suggest omitting the champagne.)
4-1/2 to 5 cups strawberries
1 pkg. (3 Tablespoons) pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup dry champagne
6 cups sugar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
In a large pot or stock pot, combine berries, pectin, lemon juice, thyme and champagne. Cook on medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. (Note: the mixture will bubble and foam and will triple in size. If you’re afraid it will boil over, feel free to scrape off some of the foam).
Once boiling, add sugar and stir constantly until mixture comes to a rolling boil again. Boil, while stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately ladle into clean, hot jars.
Invert jars after applying lids and let set for a few hours before processing for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. (The original instructions call for this step, but I was in a hurry so I skipped the inverting part and went straight to the hot water bath).
Strawberry Jam Thumbprints
(Makes 2 dozen cookies)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup ground (toasted) almonds
8 ounces butter (2 sticks), room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
The zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
pinch of salt
2/3 cup strawberry jam
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners.
In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter with sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (5 mins). In a food processor or blender, grind almonds, thyme and lemon zest together until the almonds mixture is finely ground.
In a separate small bowl, Whisk together flour, ground almonds, and salt. Stir flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined. Refrigerate dough for 20-30 minutes before shaping.
Using a teaspoon (or your hands), form small balls and place on cookies sheets, evenly spaced apart. Using your thumb, make indentations in the cookies, creating a well for the jam. Fill each cookie well with strawberry jam.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cookies are just barely browned around the edges. Allow to cool on a wire rack. The cookies should be crumbly, buttery (and fabulous)!