Friday, 22 July 2011

Stripy Jelly Orange Wedges with Raspberry Juice

No children's party in the Sixties, when I was a child, was complete without a tray of wobbling jelly-filled orange wedges. There had to be blazing red ones (cherry), and lurid green ones (greengage), made from packet jelly.

Stripy Jelly Oranges with Raspberry Juice. 
My mother made these for every single party I can remember, and I always marvelled at them.

How did my clever mummy manage to get the jelly to stay in perfect wedge formation? (It only occurred to me later that she filled up the orange halves, and then cut them into wedges.)

Other delicious party treats considered essential for a decent party table were iced or buttered Marie biscuits sprinkled with hundreds and thousands; marshmallow-filled ice-cream cones sealed with an iced biscuit, turned upside down and dressed up as clowns; and racing cars made with Boudoir biscuits and decorated with wheels made of Smarties and drivers made of sawn-off jelly babies.
Dried Naartjie Peel
Me, aged five, with my beloved dolly Gloria.

No one in my family will ever forget the day my little sister Sophie, on her fourth birthday, spent a happy half hour picking every single Smartie and jelly-baby amputee off the vast tray of racing cars my mother had set out on the party table.

By the time the guests arrived, all that remained was a sad pile of biscuits pocked with cake icing.

I've tried to recreate the memory of those happy birthday parties with these stripy jelly wedges.

Several months ago, while flipping through a Victorian cookbook, I came across an engraving of a pile of jelly oranges made with contrasting strata of jellied fruit juice.

Frustratingly, I can't remember which book it was, let alone whether it was a real book or one that I found online. Whatever the case, I was interested to see that jelly oranges were a feature of Victorian party buffets.

In the original recipe, the orange was set on its base, then hollowed out via a coin-sized hole cut through the pith at the stalk end. The whole orange was then filled with contrasting jelly layers. Once the jelly had set, the orange was cut into eighths vertically, resulting in perfect wedges with neat and identical strips.

I abandoned this idea immediately - hollowing out an entire orange through a tiny hole isn't my idea of pleasurable cooking - and instead I cut the oranges in half. The result, if you take this approach, is a variety of differently patterned wedges: the ones cut from the middle of the half-orange have perfect stripes, and the ones towards the edge of the shell are prettily graduated in sunset colours.

This is a fiddly recipe, I admit. It's not easy getting the stripes even, and it's quite difficult to cut the wedges perfectly. Use the sharpest knife you have, and keep dipping it into boiling water so that it glides easily through the jelly layers. Measure the gelatine exactly for a perfect firm set.

Stripy Jelly Orange Wedges with Raspberry Juice

three perfectly round fresh oranges
about 1½ cups (375 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice (see recipe)
2 cups (500 ml) frozen or fresh raspberries
1½ cups (375 ml) water
½ cup (125 ml) caster sugar
8 tsp (40 ml) powdered gelatine

Cut the oranges in half along their 'waists'. Run the tip of a very sharp knife a third of the way round the edge of the flesh, and then use a big spoon to scoop out all the flesh, making sure you remove all the membrane. Do this over a bowl, so that the juice doesn't escape.

Trim away any fluffy bits of pith or core and set the orange shells on a plate. If they're not perfectly level, shave a little peel away from the the bottom of each shell, making sure not to pierce any holes. Refrigerate.

Place the orange pulp in a sieve set over a bowl and press out as much juice as you can. Add more fresh orange juice to bring the total amount in the bowl up to two cups (500 ml). Put four tablespoons (60 ml) of this juice into a little bowl and over it sprinkle exactly four teaspoons (20 ml) of the gelatine. Set aside to 'sponge' for a few minutes. Now place the bowl in a saucepan of boiling water (the water should come halfway up the sides) and leave it for a few minutes to melt, without stirring. When the gelatine is clear, remove the bowl from the heat. Stir it into the fresh orange juice, and then strain the mixture into a clean jug. Set aside at room temperature.

Now make the raspberry jelly. Put the raspberries, sugar and water into a saucepan and bring gently to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer very gently for eight minutes, stirring now and then. Tip the mixture into a large sieve set over a big clean jug and allow the juice to drain out, pressing down gently with the back of a soup ladle. Discard the pulp. Sprinkle the remaining four teaspoons (20 ml) of gelatine over the hot juice and stir until it's completely dissolved. Set aside at room temperature.

Pour a layer of the orange jelly about 2 mm deep into the cold orange shells. Refrigerate until set. (You can put the shells in the freezer to speed up the layering process, but don't leave them too long). Now pour a thin layer of raspberry jelly over the top, and allow to set. Carry on layering the jelly until the shells are full. If the jugs of jelly begin to set, place them in a bowl of boiling water to liquefy them.

When the top layers of jelly are properly set, use a very sharp, hot knife to slice each orange-half into four wedges. Refrigerate until needed.

Makes 24 jelly wedges.

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Betty Bake said...

so glad you are using real fruit juice and gelatine and not the nasty chemical jelly in shops that are make out of preservatives and yukky stuff

nice story and recipe

Betty Bake x

Kit said...

They look so gorgeous, and I'm impressed that you made fresh fruit jelly for them. I make stripey jellies in glasses at Christmas, but I'm afraid it's the bought preservative-full stuff in lurid colours!

Your Mum sure did you proud for your birthday parties - I don't remember any of those creations when I was a child. Did you repeat them with your kids?

Jane-Anne said...

Betty, thanks for your comment. I love fruit juice jellies and they are so easy to make!

Kit. Yes, I did make them for my kids' parties, but only once or twice! Thanks for the comment,

Alex said...

All those things you described were all at every party I had up until about the age of 9 or 10. Considering I was born in 1990 they seem to be a classic. I think I'm going to make some for my 21st for nostalgia's sake :)

Kristine said...

ooooo! I LOVE these, I've seen these before and they never fail to entice me in with the 'jewel-like' color of the jello!! I WILL be making this ASAP! Thanks!

Frances Janisch said...

Jane-Anne, I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was to turn to your blog today - I have been looking for a Melktart recipe and thought to try Scrumptious and hey presto, there it was....but better yet, the post 'stripy jelly oranges' just took the cake, so to speak. A bunch of (ex pat) friends and I were just talking about those and how much we loved them as kids.....I can't wait to make these for my daughters birthday! Love your blog!!!

lisa kim said...

love the colors! and especially on a hot day like today, this looks very enticing.

Jane-Anne said...

Alex - thanks for this! You obviously had a mom who remembers these from her childhood. I think they'd be wonderful at a 21st.

Sugar Beams - thanks! So glad you appreciated them.

Frances - thanks for this and other comments you've left on Scrumptious. PLEASE send a pic of your daughter's party jelly oranges!

Lisa - Thank you very much for visiting my blog

Ishay said...

Hey Janey
You know the treats you described featured at the parties I attended in the 80's too! Smarties were the eyes-noses-mouths of choice!Love these wedges *hands over patience medal*

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic! I have NEVER heard of jelly being made in this way! I love it! x

Jane-Anne said...

Thanks Ishay and thanks Debra!

Jeanne said...

LOL - yes I remember all those birthday party favourites!! Height of sophisticated childhood dining ;o) Love these jelly wedges but you are clearly a more patient woman than I am!

Anonymous said...

These look awesome! Just wondering how long it takes to make them??

Carole said...

Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole's Chatter is all about favourite foods from childhood. I do hope you link this lovely one in. This is the link . Please do pop back to check out some of the other links. Have a great week.

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