Let’s cut to the chase. Just because I can’t contain my excitement! Today sees the launch of one the most anticipated cookbooks of the year – Simply Nigella. I’m still waiting for my copy so this is not a review, unfortunately (I would have loved to have one right here for you). So until that day comes, in celebration of the book, I am revisiting a recipe which has been an old favourite of mine for ages. It was one of the first things I learnt to make while I was still teaching myself the kitchen basics. I didn’t have any of Nigella’s books at the time, and fifteen years ago the internet was not as it is today. So I watched all her shows on the Food Network. Now there’s YouTube which make things a lot easier!
This week is turning out to be a good one, which considering the circumstances of the previous weeks and days, this in my eyes is quite an achievement. One of the highlights is that I managed some baking. Big whoop you say. Well for me it is. The real kind of baking – the one where I creamed sugar and butter, and mixed in eggs and flour. Not all baking has to be like that mind you, and I sure am a massive advocate for simple bakes. (I have such a great recipe coming your way in the coming weeks which is the personification of simplicity. Watch out for that. Hint: you’ll get so many brownie points if you make it for your friends, you wouldn’t believe.) Baking makes me feel cozy and makes the environment more familiar. I need that in my life right now. It’s as though I’m making friends with my old kitchen again. Not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.
I have to say, this moving thing is really throwing me off. Was about to put an exclamation mark there but I kinda stopped. Reason: there are too many of those scattered around this blog. Way too much for my liking. It would help explain my surprise though so I think you would have forgiven me if I inserted one anyway. Yes, all this tiredness from organising this move is taking its toll, and I’m not even contributing to half of the work! (And there it is. I couldn’t resist.) J is the boss when it comes to huge moves so I left the big decisions up to him. I’m trying to do the small stuff, like making sure everything’s tidy, all of our clothes are properly washed, packed and sealed, ready to be shipped and other little miscellaneous things.
So I promised you a second cake recipe today and I wasn’t going to back down. A promise is a promise. I confess that it wasn’t a difficult task for me, especially this week. I’ll be having a break for my birthday this weekend and as per tradition I am baking a double treat: two cakes or any two sweet other things for that matter. Forget the pitiful attempt at making this sponge way back when I was still new at this blogging thing. This is the recipe you want, and which I will repeat tomorrow.
These days I rarely have impromptu suppers at home but when I do I don’t even think twice about making this recipe for crumble, or adaptations of it. Crumbles are so versatile, plus they take almost an insignificant number of minutes to assemble. The baking takes a little longer but you don’t have to do anything while it’s in the oven anyway. It takes the pressure off cooking, especially when you know you have a standby recipe for emergencies.
This is technically not a typical seasonal recipe, but I thought to include it today because for me this time of year is all about emergencies, and a great pick-me-up during stressful times. I know that for many of you Christmas preparations can be a nightmare, but I hope the work and planning that goes on behind the scenes is ultimately worth it. I dare to say this is one of the healthiest recipes in this blog, excluding those times when there’s cream involved, of course – however it is Christmas so there’s nothing wrong in a little indulgence!
For the topping you need:
- 125g butter
- 60g jumbo oats
- 40g flaked almonds
- 30g sunflower seeds
- 70g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 75g light brown sugar
For the fruit mixture:
- 500g frozen blackberries (mixed summer fruits would also be a good option)
- 2 teaspoons cornflour
- 50g vanilla sugar or caster sugar
Preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas mark 6. Melt the butter and put to one side.
In a bowl combine the oats, flaked almonds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and brown sugar.
Place the fruit of your choice in a round shallow pie dish and sprinkle the cornflour and sugar as evenly as possible over it. Move the dish about to mix. (You’ll need the cornflour to absorb some of the juices since the fruit has been in the deep freeze for some time.)
Stir the melted butter into the topping (dry oat mixture), and spoon this on top of the frozen fruit on top. Do not cover completely as to end up with some of the fruit peaking out of the topping. It will look really pretty!
Bake for around 25-30 minutes. Serve this alone or with double cream during the colder months. (In Summer it’s perfect with ice cream.)
(Recipe adapted from Nigella Express, Chatto & Windus, 2007.)