It’s been quite a while since my last post. It’s not that usual for me to miss some weeks of photos and recipes but I must confess that lately inspiration has been scarce to say the least. I am not fighting it. I decided to let it go and write only when the content is good. I hate leaving things not-quite-right; it’s just not my style, so I went with the not-to-force-it attitude which works for me, at least for a little while. On a more positive note, J and I have also been to London till last week. We’ve been up visiting J2. It was good fun and we revisited some of our old favourite spots together with new ones. Exciting times indeed. The highlight of the trip was the fact that we managed to meet a handful of our dearest friends, a few in Guildford, with some Shakespeare thrown in the mix. Good times.
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.
One of the things I get asked for most by friends and family are good recipes for muffins. Now this is quite tricky for me because I’ve had my issues when it comes to baking the little beauties. I’m not referring to this recipe in particular – these have been a total success. I blame my inability to get used to different ovens quickly and efficiently. The oven in our flat in Woking was very powerful and loads of muffins were burnt! The one in Guildford had a smaller wattage (or whatever you call it) so things took longer to bake. Now I’ve returned to a gas oven and to test it I’m finding myself making loads of pizzas. Some have come out with black bottoms, whilst others have been spared, and ended up in our bellies.
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.
Crumble is one of the easiest desserts I can think of. Recently I needed to prepare an easy supper but at the same time I wanted to feel very accomplished! I wanted a meal that wouldn’t really take much work but still felt like a feast. This was the best excuse for my favourite roast chicken but I just couldn’t think of something sweet after that. Out came Nigella’s Kitchen – one of my must-have books. Not only does it have great ideas for leftovers, but I would say that almost half of the recipes in it are desserts. And really good ones! I also treasure my copy because it’s signed.
Crumbles are great because you don’t really have to follow the exact measurements. You can use either one type of fruit (fresh or frozen) or you can just mix and match. Easy. So the following is a scrumptious Strawberry and Almond Crumble. (You will find that at the moment strawberries will look good but will not be as ripe.)
I will give Nigella’s recipe as it is in her book. I have tried it and it’s great. I will then tell you what I did which worked well too. Nigella says that this will serve 6, but in my experience it will serve up to 4. If you have more people coming round for dinner just make one more dish. There’s no effort.
For the fruit mixture you need:
- 500g hulled strawberries
- 50g caster sugar
- 25g ground almonds
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the crumble topping:
- 110g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 75g butter, cold & diced
- 100g flaked almonds
- 75g demerara sugar
And double cream, to serve (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas mark 6, and put the strawberries into a round pie dish. Sprinkle over them the sugar, almonds and vanilla extract. Give the dish a good shake to mix the ingredients.
- For the crumble topping put the flour and baking powder in a smallish mixing bowl and rub in the cold butter between your thumb and fingers. You could use a mixer for this if you wish. Then stir in the flaked almonds and sugar with a fork.
- Tip the topping onto the strawberry mixture and cover the fruit evenly, also giving it a little press at the edges of the dish. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake for around 30 minutes. The crumble topping should turn a golden brown and you could also see some red juices peaking out and bubbling at the edges.
- Before serving leave it to stand for 10 minutes. This tastes great without cream but having a jug of cold cream on the table is comforting! Single cream will also do.
Now the first time I made this I didn’t have all the ingredients as shown in the recipe. So I had to make do with what I actually had. The following is what I did:
For the topping all I had was 45g flaked almonds. I didn’t even have half the amount suggested but turned out good – not great but it was ok. The mixture just felt more doughy so I left it for an additional 10 minutes in the oven for it to crisp up a bit. The second try with the full 100g was much much better though. I also used light brown sugar instead of demerara, but lately I decided to have this type of sugar as a pantry staple. So I’ll use that next time.
For the fruit mixture I had 350g strawberries and 250g raspberries in the fridge. That worked wonders because I love the tartness of the raspberries. Also 2 to 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract is enough.