lemon, bergamot & vanilla

last year i discovered bergamots – a type of orange which is perhaps best known for providing the citrus perfumed note in earl grey tea. the fruit is incredibly bitter and strongly perfumed which means that you need to be quite careful in how you use it.

last year i made bergamot curd, bergamot salt and cocktails. this year i decided to make marmalade, using a recipe from lillie o’brien, the creator of london borough of jam’s delights.

her recipe for lemon and vanilla marmalade was my starting point, but i used a mix of lemons and bergamots (in a ratio of 2:1). the vanilla is a fabulous way to balance the sourness of the bergamots, without the need for extra sugar.

having said that, the bergamot flavour still shines through and it’s a more than strong enough to add its flavour to a marmalade cake – i used a diana henry recipe to great effect.

and thanks to lillie’s generosity in guiding me through her recipe via twitter, i have other ideas for using the rest of my stash when i need it in a format other than on toast

“your marmalade can be used for many different pastry desserts such as a steamed sponge or melted through ice-cream. or even chop it up a little and ripple through some thick yoghurt for a easy dessert? or what about a bakewell tart.”

lillie o’brien’s leafy lemon and vanilla marmalade (makes approx 4 x500g jars)

1.5kg unwaxed italian leafy lemons* or a mix of lemons and bergamot

1.2kg granulated sugar

1 vanilla pod

2.3l water plus more for blanching

pinch sea salt

wash and dry the lemons and trim off the stem ends. cut in half vertically and try to take out as many seeds as possible, setting them to one side. slice the lemons horizontally to your desired thickness and place into a heavy based pan. bring the lemon slices to the boil and strain over a sink. repeat twice, blanching the slices to tenderise.

once the blanching has been done, place the lemon slices, sugar, vanilla pod, 2.3l water, muslin-wrapped lemon seeds and sea salt back into the pan and bring slowly to the boil. boil rapidly until setting point is reached (104c), about 20 minutes, remove from the heat and let rest for 10 minutes. remove the muslin-wrapped seeds and pour into warm sterilised jars.

* lillie recommends these, rather than normal supermarket ones “i use leafy italian lemons which are un-waxed and have thick skins which i believe promotes a quicker & better set than the generic lemons we buy in the supermarkets. these lemons are also softer and not as acidic so the marmalade is a bit lemonade like rather than really tart.”

diana henry’s marmalade loaf (serves 10)

175g butter

75g soft brown sugar

100g golden caster sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature

125g marmalade

finely grated zest of 1 orange (or lemon, depending which type of marmalade you use)

juice of ½ orange (or lemon, as above)

175g self-raising flour

butter and base-line a loaf tin measuring 22 x 12 x 6cm.

beat the butter and sugar in a food mixer until light and fluffy. with the machine running add the egg a little at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the marmalade, zest and juice. sift the flour and add the bran from the sieve back into it. fold into the batter with a metal spoon. scrape into the tin and smooth the top.

bake in an oven preheated to 180°c/350°f/gas mark 4 for 35 minutes. a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean. leave for 10 minutes, then turn on to a wire rack, peel off the paper and set the right way up. leave to cool (though it is lovely, if rather crumbly, when still warm). to serve, you can sift icing sugar over it, glaze it with some melted marmalade or just leave as it is.