Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Raspberry Crumble Squares

Ah third year. Full of lab work, lectures and writing your dissertation. Oh, and the most important thing in a student's life: sleeping! So with my time filled with these four activities, I wasn't left with much time for baking. And I've hated it! 

You never really acknowledge just how useful the process of baking is when you're stressed. Because the whole process, right from when you're preparing the ingredients, up to when you're clearing everything away, is so automatic, you can just turn off the nagging voice in your head, and relax to the thought of eating something scrumptious in just a short while.

Now even though I've not been able to make anything recently, it doesn't mean that I've not been eating the sweet stuff. My favourite university cafe has a large selection of muffins and flapjacks etc. But recently they had a new arrival in the sugary department: crumble squares.
They have a few flavours, but my favourite by far is the raspberry crumble. It's just so scrummy!

However, I dare not add up just how much I've spent on these bars, so I finally decided to have a go at making my own.
115g butter
175g caster sugar
1 egg
280g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
125ml milk

1 jar of raspberry jam
(Or any other flavour that takes your fancy. Apple and blackcurrant is another good one)

For the topping:
115g caster sugar
85g plain flour
50g butter

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
Grease a 9 inch baking tin, and line with greaseproof paper.
In a bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy.
Mix in the egg, and then the flour, baking powder and milk a bit at a time. Mix thoroughly.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and sugar, before adding the butter. Mix together thoroughly until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Pour the cake mixture into the lined tin.
Spread the raspberry jam over the cake mixture.
Sprinkle the crumble topping over the jam.
Bake the crumble in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown in colour.
Once cooked, take out of the oven and leave to cool.
Make sure the crumble is cooled completely before taking out of the tin, and cut into small squares.

I think I'm going to have to have a box of these on my desk for me to snack on while writing my dissertation. Perfect for when I'm starting to lose motivation!

Friday, 2 November 2012

This Is Hallowe'en

Hallowe'en has to be one of my favourite holidays. It's right up there with Christmas and Easter (chocolate, duh!).
Hallowe'en signifies the weather getting a bit more chilly, the days getting shorter, and the food being more warm and fulfilling. Not to mention that Hallowe'en just means we can dress up, stuff ourselves with sweets and buy ourselves some pumpkins. 
I've always loved carving pumpkins (even if it can be extremely messy), but my favourite part is lighting the candles, turning the lights off and seeing the pumpkins coming to life.
As I said before, it's time for food that makes you feel warm inside, which is why instead of making the traditional 'pumpkin pie', I made a pumpkin soup instead.

1 Large Pumpkin
1 Onion
1 Celery Stick
50g Chorizo
1tsp Oregano
Pinch of Salt
600ml Chicken Stock

To Garnish:

First of all, the pumpkin needs to be roasted to get the flesh.
Preheat the oven to around 200C/375F/Gas Mark 5.
Chop the pumpkin into quarters, place onto a roasting tray skin side down, and cover with oil and salt.
Roast for almost an hour, or until the flesh has browned slightly and is tender.
Remove from the oven, and leave to cool for around 10 minutes before using a spoon to remove the flesh.
Then chop up the onion, celery and chorizo.
Fry off in some olive oil in a large saucepan, until the onion is soft.
Then add the pumpkin, and leave to fry off for another 5 minutes.
Next add the chicken stock, and leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Once done, blend the soup until smooth.

To garnish, top with some chopped bacon and croutons.
Adding the cheese is optional :)

This is a really nice soup for when it's getting a bit chilly.