Grapefruit marmalade and tarts + pain au levains
For the most important years in a young boy’s life I had the good fortune of living next door to my grandparents—perched high on a hill at the very edge of town. I have so many fond memories of these years—watching storm clouds build in the west, a school holiday spent watercolour painting with my grandfather, piano lessons with my grandmother, summer days spent picking grapes, kippers on toast for breakfast, fig jam and fresh grapefruit.
Surrounding their house was a large garden that was not only beautiful but also plentiful. Grapevines across the road, almond trees, stone fruits, a vegetable garden, rhubarb, chokos (chayote … yuk!) fig trees and lining their back fence were citrus and grapefruit trees.
These grapefruit trees are simply incredible. After all these years they still produce a constant stream of fruit and every trip up to my family sees me bringing home large bags brimming with grapefruit and lemons. And to top this off is the fruit from my parents own burgeoning citrus trees.
Back in Brisbane, we hand on as many grapefruit as possible to Nat’s parents and some of our friends but this still leaves us with extra fruit using up valuable fridge space—my first instinct with excess fruit is always to make jam.
You see, I grew up with jam makers—my grandparents always had a steady supply of cumquat marmalade and fig jam topped with wax seals, and I remember many afternoons spent making apricot jam with my mum from boxes of fruit picked out of an orchard behind our house.
My method for grapefruit and lemon marmalade is pretty high-touch. Six grapefruit and six lemons are covered with water in a large pot and boiled until the skin is easily pierced with a skewer. After being taken off the heat the fruit is then left to soak overnight.
The following morning I half the fruit and scoop out the flesh which I place in a muslin cloth to separate out the liquid. The peel is sliced thinly and I combine it with the extracted liquid in a large pot before adding the same weight in sugar. (… or up to one and a half times the weight depending on the sweetness required) I then cook out the marmalade until it wrinkles in a set-test. It is then bottled in sterilized jars and finished with a boiling water bath.
I just adore the play between the sweet and tartness combined with the texture of the peel. Toasted pain au levain and marmalade—breakfast has never tasted better!
We were bringing a treat to morning tea with friends the following day so a few grapefruit and lemons were kept aside. On top of a flaky sweet shortcrust pastry from the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook I put together a citrus tart using lemons and grapefruits. My skill with shortcrust pastry is improving and each result brings further encouragement.
Rest the dough! Work quick! (it’s getting warm in our kitchen) Rest the dough! … and did I mention rest the dough?
Zest from grapefruit and lemons are combined with their juice plus cream, sugar and egg yolks. This filling was a bright delight and I found the grapefruit added an element of interest and to a well-known favourite. Flaky pastry covered the quickly emptied plate.
And amongst all this kitchen activity some bread found its way to the oven—as it does every weekend—and yet again it is my take on Gerard Rubaud’s pain au levain. I am continuing to retard the shaped loaves overnight and then start the next morning with the aroma of fresh baked bread.
A loaf is left out on the bench wrapped snugly in a tea-towel and the remainder are sliced and frozen for use during the week. mmm … marmalade on toast perhaps?
With the kitchen wiped down and clean we relax into the late afternoon. Perhaps a treat?