Apricot Jam from Austria

I know that apricot jam does not necessarily originate in Austria, but as this is my mother in law's recipe and since apricot jam is very widely used here (probably as we have such wonderful apricots from Wachau), I claim it's origin to be Austria.

A quick note on the difference between marmalade and jam: jams are made by boiling fruits and contain fruit bits (versus jellies, which are made from fruit juice); Marmalade typically is a citrus-based preserve, sometimes containing the rind.

And another note on how to sterilise jars: you could wash the jars and lids in the dish washer, but you must use them while still hot.

You could also wash them with warm or hot soapy water, rinse and place them in the oven at 250°F (120°C). Keep them there until you need them.

Also a very good idea is to rinse them with a spoonful of alcohol (rum or vodka is even better) while they are still warm and right before you fill in the jam, close with the lid and shake well, so that the alcohol can spread evenly. Then open them and put them upside down on a kitchen towel to get rid of any alcoholic rest. Don’t worry, you won’t taste any alcohol and the tiny amount evaporates completely in the hot jam.


  • 4,5-5,5 lb (2-2,5 kg) fresh apricots
  • 4,5 lb (2 kg) sugar*

Wash the apricots, remove the stones and cut them in small pieces. Mix together with the sugar and let it rest for a while. Stir occasionally.

Then bring slowly to a boil and cook for a couple of minutes.

To test if it’s the right consistency, give a little bit of jam onto a metallic spoon and within a short time it should congeal.

Fill it into the prepared jars, close the lids firmly and put them upside down for 10 minutes. That closes the lids even better and creates a vacuum.

You should get 6-8 glasses.

*In Austria we have a special sugar for making jams and marmalade, called Gelierzucker. This sugar is great as it helps with the congealing and even includes a bit of citric acid, which is a good idea to use.

I could not find out if there is an English word for this kind of sugar, but of course you can use regular sugar, in which case I would add a bit of citric acid or lemon juice.

Irish Soda Bread

The traditional Irish breakfast includes at least one of the following fried items: pork, sausages, bacon, eggs and black pudding (oh yes, a recipe will follow!), accompanied by tea or coffee and the traditional soda bread, which is made with baking soda instead of yeast. Soda bread dates to approximately 1840, when bicarbonate of soda was introduced to Ireland. Bicarbonate of soda replaced yeast as the leavening agent, which means no waiting around for the dough to rise! There are several theories as to the significance of the cross in soda bread. Some believe that the cross was placed in the bread to ward off evil. It is more likely that the cross is used to help with the cooking of the bread or to serve as a guideline for even slices. (To be honest, when I made the bread for the picture, I totally forgot about the cross -as you can probably see- and it turned out fine! No problem with the slicing and no evil spirits...at least so far !)


  • 10 oz. (280g) rye flour, mixed with 1 tbs. baking powder
  • 10 oz. (280g) all-purpose flour, mixed with 1 tbs. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 ½ - 3 c buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 410º F (190°C).

Grease a baking sheet with melted butter or use a waxed baking sheet. In a large bowl combine the two different flours, the salt and the baking soda. Add as much buttermilk to produce moist (not sticky!) and smooth dough!
Sprinkle some flour on a working surface. To knead the dough, fold it towards you and push it away with the heels of your hands. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat until the dough feels smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle some flour onto it. Form a ball and set on the prepared baking sheet. That is how it should look like:

With a sharp knife cut the dough crosswise. Brush with water and sprinkle some more flour onto it. And then right into the oven, no more rising! Bake for about 30 minutes.

The loaf should sound hollow when tapped.

Blueberry Muffins - North America

When we used to live in Maine we sometimes went for a very early morning hike and picked fresh blueberries. Then at home I made these muffins with the freshly picked blueberries for breakfast. I can not explain what an incredible taste that was! (Of course you can not always have freshly picked blueberries, but I would still wait until you get fresh ones in the store rather than using frozen ones. The taste is so different!)

An interesting fact is that Maine produces 25% of all blueberries in North America, making it the largest producer in the world.


  • ¼ c melted butter (about 2 tbsp.)
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 c fresh blueberries

Heat the oven to 400º F (180°C).

Grease the bottoms of a muffin form with 12 cups or line with paper baking cups.

In a large bowl whisk together the milk, vanilla extract, melted butter and egg. Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 25 minutes in the middle of the oven or until golden brown. Remove from the form and serve warm.

Makes 12 small or 6 bigger muffins.

There is a variation:

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Instead of the blueberries fold in 1 peeled and shredded apple and ½ tsp. ground cinnamon.

Cranberry Scones

These are the first scones I ever tried to bake. I don’t know why, but I was intimidated by the thought of baking scones. I had no reason to be: they turned out perfect and delicious.
It’s this wonderful combination of the sweet scone dough with the slightly sour cranberries that is just irresistible!
The cranberry, along with the blueberry and Concord grape, is one of North America's three native fruits that are commercially grown. Cranberries were first used by Native Americans, who discovered the wild berry's versatility as a food, fabric dye and healing agent.
The name "cranberry" derives from the Pilgrim name for the fruit, "craneberry", so called because the small, pink blossoms that appear in the spring resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill crane. European settlers adopted the Native American uses for the fruit and found the berry a valuable bartering tool. American whalers and mariners carried cranberries on their voyages to prevent scurvy, as the fruit is extremely high in Vitamin C. 
  • 2/3 c buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 c flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ c (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 c cranberries (if possible fresh, otherwise frozen)
  • ½ c brown sugar
  • some drops of orange extract
  • 1 tbs. melted butter
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C)
Whisk together buttermilk and egg and set aside.
In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and rub it into the mixture with your fingers.
Fold in the cranberries, sugar and the orange extract and mix well. At last add the buttermilk/egg mixture and combine to soft dough.
Knead the dough on a floured board thoroughly and form it into a ball. Cut it into 8 pieces, form each one into a ball and place it on a cookie or baking sheet.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes until the scones are golden brown on the surface. Remove them and brush them with the tablespoon of butter.
Let them cool before serving.
Serve them as they are or with butter and honey.
Makes eight scones.

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