A thick slice of warm sweet cake…

A thick slice of warm sweet cake…

Oh, my, my! It’s time to bake and share…. You know, those gifts that you have ready when you need something for a friend at work, or a favorite neighbor. My recipe for Blueberry Poppy Seed Loaf with Jammin’ Berry Jam fits the bill for a bake a share holiday treat. An excellent way to present this sweet and heavenly loaf of thoughtfulness is to wrap it in a linen kitchen towel, and tie it off with a sprig of holly.

Visually it works, and taste bud wise it totally works. I can all but guarantee nothing’s better with your morning skinny latte than a thick slice of warm, sweet cake with a slather of tart berry jam. It’s a combo that makes your tongue want to slap the roof of your mouth!

The jam is super fresh, owing that to a total of two pints of fresh blue and blackberries, zesty citrus and hint of mint.

This recipe works well, printed out and tucked into the gift of a new electric mixer. In my book, SUNDAY BEST DISHES, I recommend this Kitchen Aid – and since you’re already on Amazon, go ahead and get my cookbook while you’re at it. I can guarantee a personalized bookplate if you order before Christmas. But without further adieu…

Blueberry Poppy Seed Loaf

with Jammin’ Berry Jam

MAKES 8 SERVINGS

 

Loaf

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon table salt

½ cups whole milk

⅓ cup canola oil

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Use an electric mixer to combine the milk, canola oil and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time. Stir in almond and vanilla extracts. Mix in the flour. Stir in the poppy seeds and blueberries until just combined. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake until the loaf is golden on the top and a tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely.

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Jam

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 pint fresh blackberries

½ cup granulated sugar

Zest of 1 medium lime, about 1 to 2 teaspoons

Juice of 1 large lime, about 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Place the berries, sugar, lime zest and juice into a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the berries are mushy, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the mint and cook until the berries break down completely, about 5 minutes more. Pour the jam into a bowl and cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

 

Plum Up the Jam..with These Oatmeal Bars

Plum Up the Jam..with These Oatmeal Bars

My friend, Jenny (the one who loves to can the food she grows in her Napa garden) brought me a jar of her plum preserves, along with a jar of her calamondin jam. Plums you know about. Calamondins are tiny orange-looking fruits. They are citrusy tasting, but not necessarily sweet like an orange. To make calamondin marmalade, Jenny has to seed each little globe, cut them into quarters, and fill a huge soup pot. She saves the seeds and ties them in cheesecloth. These, too, go into the pot with sugar and other secret ingredients! The seeds create the pectin that gives the marmalade its viscous texture.

In case you’re curious, here’s a collection of homegrown calamondins!

I switched up between a spoonful of plum jam, and a spoonful of calamondin marmalade on my toast each morning…and then it happened! While sipping coffee and gaining consciousness, I accidentally put both the jam and the marmalade on one single piece of toast. Strike up the brass band and fireworks! The taste was delicious” a merging of tart and sweet with a twangy aftertaste. It was phenomenal.

I came across an old cookie bar recipe that called for strawberry jam and said to myself,

“‘Self, what the heck… let’s get this fusion of flavors going!”

And here it is a recipe for an oatmeal bar, filled with both calamondin marmalade and plum jam. It’s pretty delish!! Now, if Jenny is not your friend, you might just have to go to the store to look for the proper filling. There are plenty of marmalades and jams on the shelves of your local grocer. If you venture to your local farmer’s market, you’ll find even more varieties. The lesson here is to experiment with new flavors in your traditional recipes to create a new, fresh taste. You can’t go wrong!!

Oatmeal Bars With Jam Filling

Yield about 16 (2-inch) bars

45 Minute Cuisine

Plum Up the Jam..with These Oatmeal Bars

Simple to make and crumbly to eat, these bars are the perfect after-school snack or grab and go breakfast for that picky little eater.

1 cup butter, cut into pieces, 2 sticks

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups your favorite jam

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray and line with parchment paper.

Place the butter, flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coarse crumbs form and the dough begins to clump together, about 3 to 4 minutes of pulsing.

Spread half of the dough into the bottom of the pan, pressing down to form a layer. Spread the jam over the top. Place the rest of the dough onto the top of the jam. Press down lightly.

Bake until the bars are golden brown on the top, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, and cut into squares.