- Food & Drink
On Tuesday I faced my fears. I looked down into a pan of boiling marmalade and I didn’t blink. I couldn’t risk it after the marmalade debacle the week before when I burnt a pan of kumquat preserve until it resembled the sort of thing that’d wash up on the shore in Louisiana.
My teacher had taken a look at my devastated face and slumped shoulders and reassuringly said to me: “Don’t worry. Next week, I’ll do the prep and you can have another go.” Numb with despair, I nodded my agreement and lo, on Tuesday she appeared with a pan of finely sliced and seeded kumquats that she’d paid for herself. How lovely is that? 2lbs of kumquats isn’t cheap and slicing them up into wafer thin pieces is no half hour job. I had to do her efforts justice.
So I watched that pan like a hungry hawk with scurvy, keeping it on a very low heat and caressing it to the boil. Then I seethed it as gently as anyone can seethe marmalade and several hours later I had 8 jars of beautiful, sunset orange marmalade. I rejoiced, my teachers rejoiced, the chickens in their chicken runs rejoiced because no one would be chucking burnt marmalade into their feeding pit that day.
For those of you who read just to find out what I’ve scorched black (looking at you Sister Number 2), don’t worry. It wasn’t all success and happiness. I did burn the scones.
This was entirely down to the oven in my section being a ‘roaster’, which meant that when I set it to 230°C it was actually heating up to around 240°C. And also because I was too busy staring at the marmalade to pay attention to things like smoking scones.
Using my quick wit and artistic flair, I dusted the scones with a thick drift of icing sugar. It was almost impossible to see the black bits. Almost. I was told that they were still perfectly servable (it’s very hard to produce something that’s not deemed servable here) even if they were a shade, er, sunburnt.
As well as these extras, I made bruschetta with rocket, the ends of some very manky looking blue cheese and caramelised onions, and some French apple tartlets. I did my best to make those look beautiful – carefully fanning out the apples and tidying up the pastry. All of which was a waste of time because I sprinkled sugar everywhere. The sugar melted in the oven and the apple tarts came out welded to the tray.
I tried to ease them out with a spoon, then with a palette knife. I blow torched the top of the tarts, hoping to caramelise them some more and melt the sugar. That didn’t work, so the tarts went back in the oven for a few minutes. The moment they were out I was at them with knives and spoons, rescuing them from the syrupy grip of the sugar. I only broke 2 (out of 11) and ate them with coffee for my elevenses, so no one would know what I’d done.