A while ago, I got to taste a few organic plums from my parents’ veg box and then some more from a neighbour’s tree, and I think they may have spoiled me because the plums I bought at the market just didn’t taste very good on their own. I wasn’t too disappointed, though—home-made jam was on my food resolutions list and I figured this was the time to try it! I have no experience with preserving and canning, but I just cooked the fruit with a few tablespoons of sugar and a little lemon juice until it reduced, thickened, and turned a beautiful dark red. The jam is a little tart and just sweet enough, and I’ve really been enjoying it on top of my porridge in the morning.
I know budget eating strictly doesn’t allow for many treats, but I just love baking every now and then and I couldn’t resist using this jam to make a batch of thumbprint cookies. They had rolled oats and brown sugar and cinnamon and I think they’re only about 3 cents per cookie, so that’s not too bad! The jam itself cost around 65 cents for about a jar’s worth, which makes it a little cheaper than supermarket jam and it’s a lot more delicious, in my opinion. I only made a small amount so I didn’t use special jars or bother with boiling and sterilising, but maybe someday I’ll learn about those things as well. For now, I’ll definitely be making more small batches of fruit jam when I find good deals at the market!
Edit: Because someone asked in the comments (thanks koreanmutt!), I’ve added the recipe for the cookies below. Now, I don’t have an oven thermometer (I know. I know! but I’ve known my oven for a very long time and I feel like we’ve developed an understanding) and ovens run differently so the baking time of these may vary—I’d check on them after ten minutes to see how they’re doing and take them out when they’re starting to brown at the edges.
I adapted the recipe from the PPK’s chocolate chip cookies. Those are my go-to American-style cookies, but I kept making little changes when I wanted something different and ended up with these. I just looked at some other recipes and noticed most people add the jam after baking rather than before, so maybe I’ll try that next time, but I kind of like how the jam melted into the dough here.
Plum jam and oat thumbprint cookies (makes 10-12)
25 g (2 tablespoons) brown sugar
12 g (1 tablespoon) white sugar
60 ml (1/4 cup) sunflower oil
15 ml (1 tablespoon) water (or soya milk if you have it) plus a little more if needed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (you can omit these for budgeting purposes!)
50 g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
65 g (1/2 cup) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground nutmeg and cloves
a few tablespoons of jam
Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius (350° Fahrenheit) and line an oven tray with baking parchment.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the sugars, oil, water, and extracts until more or less emulsified. Add the dry ingredients (not the jam!) and stir to combine. The dough should be pretty thick but not dry; add an additional tablespoon or so of water or soya milk if necessary. Now drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough on the baking sheet (I use a measuring spoon to scoop and shape them) and use your finger or the back of a teaspoon to make little indents in the middle of each cookie. Then fill the wells with jam—a generous teaspoon each.
Bake for about 12 minutes until the edges start to brown and let cool on the baking tray for at least a few minutes before serving.