Welcome back, friends and fans, to the final post I’ll be making this dumpster fire of a year. I know, guys, it’s been hell in more ways than I can say on here. Though despite having lost the Goblin King, our favorite Potions Master, and the Princess/General of long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, this year has actually been pretty good to me in terms of this blog:
- My husband has a new job and our collective income has made it easier to do bigger, more awesome things with food and travel (New Zealand in 2018, here we come!)
- My readership has grown wickedly fast, and for that blessing I owe thanks to you fine folks, The Lady Nerd, Lifehacker, Battle and Brew, International Geek Girl Penpals, GOOD Magazine, and Fandom Foodies.
- I’ve made new friends all over the country and the world in food blogging and fandom and they are AMAZING! I am so thankful to all of you for giving me so much inspiration with your creativity and kindness.
Speaking of whom, I want to once again highlight my wonderful blogger friends in Fandom Foodies for today’s post. Each month one of us in our little collective hosts a recipe link-up with a chosen theme.
Last month we all celebrated everyone’s favorite pottery-smashing game sprite with Bryan of Lvl. 1 Chef for #ZeldaMonth. Carrie of Witchy Kitchen celebrated the spooky and spoopy works of Tim Burton in October with #Burtoween. September I showed you the many ways to cook your pocket monsters with #PokeNOM. And in August Diana of Fiction Food Cafe took us to Mossflower and Redwall Abbey with #RedwallAugust.
The works of C.S. Lewis hold a special place in my heart because they are what essentially first drew me into my love of fantasy, sci-fi, and fandom. My dad was in the U.S. Army for 23 years and between 1989-1992 we were stationed in Farnborough, England. Children’s television was pretty limited at the time, but my parents bought the BBC’s live-action video set of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
Living in a country full of castles, the four-year-old me was completely entranced by the full-body costumes, rotoscoped animation, and puppets. We even had a large wooden wardrobe on the second floor of our house that I would spend hours in, waiting for the back to fall away to a winter wonderland full of fauns, nymphs, and talking animals.
So for today’s recipe I wanted to make something right out of my land of fantasy and Mrs. Beaver’s Kitchen:
And when they had finished the fish, Mrs. Beaver brought unexpectedly out of the oven a great and gloriously sticky marmalade roll, steaming hot, and at the same time moved the kettle onto the fire, so that when they had finished the marmalade roll the tea was made and ready to be poured out.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis, A Day with the Beavers
Since at this time Narnia was the world that was always Winter and never Christmas, I imagine this dish would not only be a treat, but a great honor to make in the eyes of Mrs. Beaver. With livestock needing to be fed on imported grains, butter would probably be at a premium. Something like marmalade would also need to be imported from the Lone Islands or Calormen as orange trees would never survive the frost. She is literally sacrificing the most luxurious and expensive items in her cupboard to the Pevensies in hope that they will save her world.
That said, I also wanted to add flavors that would evoke the scents of the forest, as well as give the impression that this roll was baked in a wood-burning stove. To do this, I first smoked the flour in a stockpot with foil. It’s actually pretty easy to do, though not necessary if you don’t have the time and are ok with sitting out on smoky awesomeness. I used a mix of hickory and apple wood chips since that is what I had at the time and it imparts a heavier smoke taste. For the true beaver family experience, use alder wood. Beavers love alder wood, though it would impart a bit more of a subtle flavor.
For a piney and woodsy kick, I also mixed fresh rosemary into the dough, then crushed black walnut in with the marmalade. Black walnuts are bit stronger and more bitter than regular walnuts, though their flavor emulates the aroma of freshly cut trees. Feel free to use regular walnuts if you’re unable to find this variety. Though if you’re in the Atlanta area, these delightful morsels can be found at Dekalb Farmers’ Market.
Top the whole baked lot with powdered sugar and you have a tasty treat for breakfast, afternoon tea, and dessert. Once set, you can even slice pieces up for holiday gifts.
So here it is, a sweet and woodsy respite from the blistering winter. Make sure to check out all the other Narnia inspired recipes on Alison’s Wonderland Recipes. Thanks again for stopping by, and have a happy new year!
Mrs. Beaver's Glorious Sticky Marmalade Roll
Equipment: Stockpot with lid, stovetop, aluminum foil, metal steamer basket, 9-inch or smaller cake pan, pastry cutter (optional), parchment paper, oven, roast pan with rack.
- 2 tablespoons apple or alder wood chips
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- cooking spray
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup crushed black walnuts
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 1/4 cups marmalade
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- powdered sugar for garnish
Smoke the flour
- Line the bottom of your stockpot with aluminum foil and scatter the wood chips on top. Place the steamer basket without the center pin or a miniature roasting rack over the chips. Pour the flour into the cake pan and set on top of the basket or rack. Cover the stockpot with the lid and seal the edges with foil.
- Set the pot on a stovetop burner on high heat for about 7-8 minutes then turn it off. Allow the pot to sit undisturbed for 35 minutes. The flour is now ready for use.
Make the roll
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, rosemary, and sugar into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and stir in, or work in with a pastry cutter. Mix the milk in with a metal spoon until it makes a thick dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to bake.
- Preheat the oven to 400° F. Tip dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute. Roll out a piece of parchment paper about 18 inches long, spray one side with cooking spray and dust with flour. Transfer the dough to the paper and roll out a 14″ x 12″ rectangle.
- Slather the dough with marmalade, leaving an inch and a half gap between the edge of the dough and the marmalade on the long sides and one of the short sides. Leave about a 3-inch gap at the other end of the short side. Scatter walnuts over the marmalade until you have a small handful left to garnish with.
- Using the paper to help you roll, start rolling at the short side with the smaller margin, pinching the ends as you go to keep the marmalade in. Press lightly on the seam to seal the roll and wrap the roll with the parchment paper, folding over the edges. Wrap this roll completely with aluminum foil, sealing the edges, and place on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan that the bottom is covered, but it does not touch the underside of the rack.
- Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit to cool about 10 minutes before unwrapping.
- Garnish with powdered sugar, crushed walnuts, and rosemary sprigs before slicing and serving.