Blackcurrant Jam

A good jam for beginners to make, Black-currant Jam sets very easily because of its high pectin content. But take care not to add the sugar too soon, because this can make the jam too firm.

5 .

1 lb. fresh blackcurrants

1 ½ pints water

1 lb. sugar, warmed

Remove the stalks from the currants and wash and drain thoroughly.

In a large pan, bring the water to the boil. Add the fruit and simmer gently, uncovered, over low heat for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the fruit is soft.

Add the warmed sugar to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon until it is dissolved. Raise the heat to high and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for 10 minutes.

Remove a spoonful of the jam from the pan and put it on a plate. Allow it to cool and then push it with your finger. If it wrinkles and a drop of the jam will not fall off your finger, it is ready.

If the jam does not seem ready, continue boiling for another 5 minutes and test again.

When the jam is ready, remove the pan from the heat and pour the jam into clean, warm, dry jars, leaving a ½ inch space at the top of each.

Using a hot, damp cloth wipe the out-sides of the jars while they are still hot. Cover the jars with small rounds of wax paper. Fasten cellophane covers over the tops of the jars with rubber bands. Label and date the jars and store them in a cool, dark, dry place.

Blackcurrant Liqueur

Made chiefly in France, where it is known as creme de cassis, blackcurrant liqueur is sweet and dark red. For a refreshing drink add chilled soda water to a measure of the liqueur.

Black Forest Cherry Cake

This elegant German cake takes a great deal of care and patience to make, but is well worth the extra time. Flavoured with kirsch and covered with luscious swirls of whipped cream, chocolate and cherries, Black Forest Cherry Cake is ideal for special tea parties.

1 lb. plain chocolate

1 tablespoon butter

1 oz. plus

3 tablespoons flour

5 eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

6 oz. sugar

2 oz. cocoa

5 oz. melted butter

4 oz. sugar

8 fl. oz. water

4 fl. oz. kirsch

1 ½ pints whipping cream

2 oz. icing sugar

6 oz. canned morello cherries, drained, rinsed, thoroughly dried and then sprinkled with juice of

1 lemon fresh red cherries or maraschino cherries

To make the decoration for the top and sides of the finished cake, place a piece of greaseproof or waxed paper on a flat surface. Hold the chocolate gently with one hand and using a vegetable peeler, shave long ribbons from the block on to the paper. Wide curls are obtained from the top surface of the chocolate block, narrow curls from the side edges. Cover the curls loosely and chill.

Lightly grease three

7-inch, round cake tins with the tablespoon of butter. Using

1 tablespoon flour for each, lightly dust the insides of the tins. Shake out any excess flour.

Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C).

Put the eggs, vanilla essence and sugar into a large mixing bowl and with a wire whisk or rotary beater beat the mixture well until it is thick and fluffy and makes a ribbon trail on itself when the whisk is lifted.

Sift the flour and cocoa on to the egg-and-sugar mixture a little at a time and fold in gently with a spoon. Pour in the melted butter, a tablespoon at a time, and stir in gently.

Pour the mixture into the 3 cake tins, evenly distributing it amongst them.

Place the tins in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cakes are cooked. Test by inserting a skewer into the centre, of the cakes. If the skewer comes out clean, the cakes are done. After removing the tins from the oven, leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning them out on to a large cake rack.

While the cakes are cooling, make the kirsch syrup. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan over moderate heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar is completely dissolved, raise the heat and boil briskly for 5 minutes. Take the saucepan off the heat and set it aside. Leave for 20 minutes, or until the syrup is cool. When the syrup is cool, stir in the kirsch. Prick the top surfaces of the cakes with a fork and slowly spoon the syrup over the tops. Set aside.

Whip the cream in a large mixing bowl with a wire whisk or rotary beater until it is slightly thickened. Sift the icing sugar on to the cream and beat continuously until the cream is stiff and holds firm peaks.

Remove the chocolate curls from the refrigerator and keep to one side.

Place one of the three cakes on an attractive serving dish and cover the top with a Jl-inch layer of cream. Spread the canned cherries on the cream. Carefully place the second cake on top of the first layer, and cover it with another |–inch of cream. Place the remaining cake on top of the second layer and cover the side of the cake with cream, reserving some for piping on top.

Completely cover the sides of the cake with the chocolate curls, gently placing them on with your fingertips. Pipe the top of the cake with cream, and decorate with the cherries and several wide choco-late curls in the centre. Chill the cake until you are ready to serve it.

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