Monday, 23 August 2010


It's feeling distincly autumnal here at the moment and there's no complaints from me. I wasn't awake to experience it but apparently last night we had a storm of biblical proportions that caused some flooding in places. Hooray for living at the top of a hill! For me, one of the best things about autumn, aside from cooler weather, is blackberries which I love, and as my sister and me discovered last week, less than a 1 minute walk from my house is a huge patch of brambles! We picked 3 plastic tubs worth of beautiful berries, some big and small, some sweet, some sour, but all delicious and completely free!

For a Sunday teatime treat I made blackberry and coconut squares which were super easy to make and absolutely delicious. The base becomes a soft, moist cake, topped with juicy blackberries and a lovely crunchy top plus you only need one bowl to make it, which for me is a great pleasure as I don't own a dishwasher. They seem to keep pretty well too.

Blackberry and Coconut Squares

250g self-raising flour
25g oats
280g soft brown sugar
200g cold butter , cut into pieces
75g desiccated coconut
2 medium eggs, beaten
350g frozen or fresh blackberries
-Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Tip the flour, oats and sugar into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mixture using your fingertips until only small pea-size pieces remain. Stir through the coconut, then fill a teacup with the mixture and set this aside.
-Stir the eggs into the bowl of mixture, then spread over the bottom of a lined baking tin (31 x 17cm), or a 21cm square tin. Smooth the surface with the back of a spoon, then scatter over the blackberries. Scatter over the reserved teacup mixture and bake for 1 hr-1 hr 15 mins until golden and cooked through (if you poke a skewer in, it should come out with moist crumbs but no wet mixture). Leave to cool, then remove from the tin and cut into squares.

You could probably throw in some diced apple for a twist and raspberries would make a more summey version. And for all of those among you who have an irrational hatred of coconut...
Shame on you.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

TSR Bakers August Bake - Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars

This is a little bit late, but you'll have to forgive me as I was working all weekend (boo to working weekends!) and it takes me a good two days to recover from it. Yes, I hate my job that much. Anyway, this month's bake was Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars as chosen by The White Cat Baker. I love pretzels, both the crunchy kind and the soft doughy kind, but had never thought of baking with the former, but these are a lovely treat indeed. Whilst still warm from the oven, they are almost cake like, soft and slightly crunchy and chewy roun the edges. Once cold and after spending a day stored in a cake tin, they are denser, chewier and more like a square inch thick cookie, with the chopped up pretzels within having more the texture of shortbread biscuit. Truly lovely.
Recipe can be found here.

I couldn't find good quality chocolate chips or mini pretzels (that didn't have sour cream and chive flavouring on them) so I substituted them with these lovely chocolate buttons I found in a deli and giant pretzels and they worked just fine too. Still, would be nice to get my hands on some good quality chocolate chips, so if anyone has any recommendations, I'd love to hear them. And I've no idea what all this bittersweet/semisweet stuff is all about, so I used the dark chocolate buttons for the majority and a handful or so of the milk and that seemed to give the right balance.

Right, back to applying for jobs. Meh.
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