What's more enticing than hearing someone describe all their lovely snacks as they are packed into a hamper for a picnic?
Especially when the list includes sausages and Jam Puffs!
When the Pott family set out for the second ever drive in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, on a hot summer's Saturday, they head to the coast with a picnic. The Jam Puffs from that hamper are what I've set out to bake, though I've never eaten a Jam Puff before. I've never even seen a Jam Puff before. The name is fairly self-explanatory though. Puff pastry with jam.
I fancied Strawberry Jam for these puffs and had to go and buy some as, like I've said before, we have majored on the Damson jam in our house and don't have much else except Marmalade. Pleasingly, Bon Maman was on offer so I stocked up on Apricot too, to tide us over til the lovely apricots are in at our greengrocer's.
My truly lovely and very dear friend Sarah had invited me for a rather charming jaunt to a couple of her favourite places in Devon, so on a sunny and blustery March Thursday we headed off with a picnic to Colyton, for a river walk and picnic followed by cups of tea and mooching at Lyme Regis. This lovely opportunity for an early Spring picnic presented itself as the perfect chance to make Jam Puffs.
It's always nice to share your baking with friends, and never good to have to eat it all yourself, so I hurriedly made the puffs before we set out in the morning. They are so quick and simple, and I highly recommend you giving them a go. There are no measurements so you can make as many or as few as you like. I bought one pre-rolled sheet of puff pastry from the supermarket (why would you ever bother to make it unless you're on the Bake-off?) and it made 6 nice square puffs.
The recipe gives you the option of one enormous Jam Puff to be sliced afterwards or individual ones. I wanted nice little separate parcels so I divided the sheet in half then cut each resulting rectangle into 6 squares. I spread the jam over 6 squares, leaving a good margin jamless ready to be brushed with egg. I took an un-jammed rectangle and brushed egg around each edge then laid it over the jammed square, pressing down well around all the edges and squeezing them upwards a little. They nice thing is that they fitted perfectly one one baking tray, which went in the oven at 200 degrees. The baking time given was for the whole large puff, so I just kept a careful eye on them and set the timer for ten minutes. When the beeper went off they had puffed up beautifully but were still quite pale so I gave them another 2 minutes before whipping them out and brushing them generously with egg and sprinkling them liberally with caster sugar. After 2 more minutes they were a shiny golden brown so that was it. Delightful puffy pillows of pastry.
Now these puffs are called "More-Jam-Than-Puff Jam Puffs" and to be true to the book, I should have been more generous with the jam, but the truth is I don't like it when jam overtakes everything so these puffs are Just-Enough-Jam-to-Puff Jam Puffs and Sarah and I, (and Andy) decided they were just right. I took a can of squirty cream with us so that we could lift off the lid and splurge the cream inside, and Sarah and I enjoyed our first ones in the sunshine and strong wind as soon as we parked the car, for elevenses at Colyton, before setting out on our walk. It turned out to be a very gentle and pootley walk because we were looking out for the quite rare, natural, small daffodils that are very precious to Sarah, as well as savouring the most wonderfully shaped, glorious trees that we met along the way, and listening to the gurgling of the sparkly river. We stopped to bask in the sunshine and admire catkins and had a very relaxed time.
And it all served to confirm several very obvious things. Sarah is adorable. Trees are gorgeous. Rivers are wonderful. Picnics are brilliant.