This is the first time I have used homemade jam in this slice, and I am pleased to say it is well worth the effort. I have made this slice numerous times in the past, usually using a raspberry jam, mostly one by Bonne Maman. It was always nice, and always something that I was asked to make often.
Once I decided I was going to make my own jam however, I knew I needed to try some with this slice recipe. I was quite amazed at how much better the flavours were and I don’t think I will be going to back to using bought jam anytime soon.
If you are worried about making jam, I urge you to give this a go. Its not difficult you just need to be organised and have everything prepared and ready. Make sure you read through the recipe before you begin, and work out how you want to co-ordinate sterilising the jam jars and getting the jam started. I have also added a few extra jam making tips at the end of the recipe which should help. Fresh or frozen berries can be used for the jam, and you can alter the quantities or types of berries used. Just make sure the total quantity adds up to 1 kg.
I used fresh berries that I had frozen myself for this recipe. When I see berries in season and at a good price, I always buy them and freeze them immediately. I use tupperware containers to store them in the freezer, and try to keep the most recent purchases at the bottom to ensure I use them after the ones I bought less recently. It is often a good idea to label and date these things, I just often forget or can’t be bothered. I bake with berries so often that they don’t tend to stay in the freezer very long. I find they cook much better than the bought frozen berries, as they hold their shape and don’t bleed so much (which is good when making cakes and muffins etc).
I am very much looking forward to making this jam again. I found it so satisfying that my homemade jam tasted better than the bought stuff, and it was really nice to give as gifts as well. The slice recipe would lend itself to be paired with lots of different types of jams - I’m thinking cherry, or quince for next time.
Homemade Triple Berry Jam
If making the homemade jam for the almond slice, make the jam at least one day ahead.
700 g raspberries
175 g blueberries
125 g blackberries
80 ml lemon juice, plus extra
880 g white sugar
Begin by placing two or three small plates in the freezer. You will need these later to test if the jam is jelling and ready to bottle.
Then, sterilise at least four 370g capacity jars (I used old Bonne Maman jam jars). There are a few different methods to sterilise jars for preserving, however I prefer to pre-heat the oven to 100-120 degrees Celsius, wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water, then place the jars upside down on an oven shelf. Allow the lids to air dry. Leave the jars in the oven for at least 20 minutes.
Whilst the jam jars are being sterilised, start making the jam. Using a large heavy based saucepan (preferably enamel, stainless steel or aluminium), mix all the ingredients together and place on the stove over high heat without boiling, until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow the jam mixture to simmer uncovered for 20 minutes without stirring. The jam mixture should have reduced by the 20 minute mark and will also appear to have thickened. If necessary stir the jam a little ensure it is cooking evenly.
After 20 minutes test the jam to see if it has reached jelling point. To test the jelling point of the jam, use one of the chilled plates and drop a small amount of the jam onto it. Leave for a couple of minutes, then push your finger through the jam. If a skin has formed over the jam and you can now see it wrinkling, the jam is ready. If it is not ready, leave to cook for a few more minutes and/or add some extra lemon juice. Then use the remaining chilled plates to test if the jam has jelled.
Once the jam has reached jelling point, remove the sterilised jars from the oven and place onto a wooden board. Using a wide mouthed funnel or jam funnel, pour the hot jam into the hot sterilised jars. Fill right to the top and seal immediately. Leave to cool, and store in a cool dark place. This jam should last about 1 year stored correctly and unopened. Once opened keep in the fridge.
I often sterilise one extra jar just in case I need it, even if its a slightly smaller jar, just in case the recipe makes more jam than I expect.
Make sure the jars are filled right to the top with jam. If you do not they may not store as well and could develop mould. If you find you cannot fill a jar to the top, make sure you use that one first.
If mould does develop on the surface of the jam during storage, discard that whole jar. It will not be safe to eat any of the jam from that jar, even if the mould is removed from the surface.
In very humid conditions jam can be stored in the fridge even before opening.
If the jam will not reach jelling point, bring back to the boil and try again. You can also add more lemon juice (which acts as a natural jelling agent), or pectin/jam setter. Jams using apples generally set well as they naturally contain a lot of pectin.
Ensure all the utensils you are using, particularly the funnel, are well washed. Any contamination of the jam once it is cooling down could compromise its shelf life.
Berry Almond Slice
Ingredients for the Topping:
60 g unsalted butter, softened
55 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract/paste
200 g flaked almonds
2 tbsp milk
Ingredients for the Base:
150 g unsalted butter, softened
110 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract/paste
225 g plain flour
40 g cornflour
180-200g homemade triple berry jam
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line a 24 x 20 cm baking/lamington tin with baking paper.
Make the almond topping first by combining all the ingredients in a small/medium saucepan. Place over low heat and stir until the butter has melted. Set aside to cool.
To make the base of the slice, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, until the mixture is pale and creamy. With the mixer on low speed, sift in the flour and cornflour in two or three batches. Mix until the ingredients are just combined.
Press the dough mixture into the base of the lined tin, and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until it is light golden in colour. Then remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes.
Spread the jam over the base, then top with the almond mixture. Cook for a further 25-30 minutes, or until the almond topping has turned golden brown. You may need to turn the slice half way through the cooking time to bake the top evenly.
Allow to cool in the tin, and cut into slices once cooled.
References: ‘Made from Scratch’ by the Australian Women’s Weekly (Bauer Media Books, 2015) pp 48-49, 57 & 270; ‘Holiday’ by Bill Granger (Murdoch Books, 2007) p.22.