White chocolate and raspberry tartlets

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Hope you all had a great weekend! It was a really fun one for us – we went to the school fete on Saturday morning then we had our beautiful little nephew over for a sleepover. It was so lovely having a toddler running around the house again – he is a real cutie!

We had burgers for dinner tonight at hubby’s request – how could I refuse him on Father’s Day? I couldn’t ask for a better husband or Father to our boys, he really is the best x

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I also made some no-churn peach ice cream which will feature in a blog post very shortly – watch this space!

My lovely hubs bought a lovely mini tart tin from Lakeland on Friday and I was itching to test it out asap. I’ve been dreaming of coming up with a white chocolate and raspberry tart recipe for a while now but I didn’t have much time or patience for inventing my own recipe today. A quick google search lead me to Ottolenghi’s white chocolate and raspberry tarts. Little individual tarts filled with raspberry jam, white chocolate ganache and swirls of raspberry coulis. Perfect!

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I used Dan Lepard’s sweet pastry recipe for the tart bases. This has recently become my go to recipe whenever I need sweet pastry – it rolls out like a dream and you end up with a lovely crisp pastry base. You will find the recipe right herehttp://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2007/nov/24/foodanddrink.baking56 – I halved the recipe.

I only made six little tarts so I halved the recipe for the filling – it turned out to be just the right amount (although I was a clumsy pants and spilled some of the ganache!)

White chocolate and raspberry tartlets adapted from the Ottolenghi Cookbook

A six hole mini tart tin (mine came from Lakeland)

Half quantity of Dan Lepard’s sweet pastry (recipe in link above)

If you have the larger individual tart tins, I would advise you to double the recipe below.

90g good white chocolate
10g butter
45ml double cream
25g fresh raspberries
6 tsp raspberry jam

To make the coulis, press the raspberries through a sieve into a bowl.

Placd the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to boiling point. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and butter, stir until melted and smooth.

Place one tsp of raspberry jam in each fully cooled tart case. Carefully pour some ganache in each case – it should just reach the top. If it spills over the edge, don’t worry! I made a complete mess doing this. You can always tidy it up. Using a 1/2 tsp measurement, pour a little blob of raspberry coulis in the middle of each tart. Using the tip of a knife, gently swirl to make a pretty pattern. Place in the fridge for around one hour to set.

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Victoria Sponge with fresh raspberries and cream

image Is there anything more homely and inviting than the classic Victoria sponge? It’s one of the classics that has truely stood the test of time. Traditionally the Victoria sponge is filled with raspberry jam and sprinkled with caster sugar, but it can easily be adapted to suit your favourite flavours.

I love a lemon Victoria sponge, filled with lemon curd and whipped cream (drooling just thinking about it!)

Or how about a rhubarb and custard version, with custard powder in the sponge and softly whipped cream rippled with roasted rhubarb?

Today I went for something a little more simple. I had less than two hours before I was due to go to my friend’s house for lunch and I pretty much always turn up at her door armed with some kind of cake and I didn’t want to disappoint!

I went for the simple all in one method, where you beat all the sponge ingredients together at once. Baking powder is added for extra lift. I’m going to come clean here – I use stork in my sponges. I know some people balk at the idea, but I just love the fluffy soft texture you achieve when baking with stork and I cannot get the same results with butter. Believe me I’ve tried. I absolutely always use butter for all other baking, but I always turn to Stork when baking a sponge cake. Mary Berry uses it, so if it’s good enough for her it sure as heck is good enough for me!

I also lighten up the cream by mixing it with some greek yoghurt. It seems to cut the richness and heaviness of the cream and I love the very slight tang the yoghurt gives. A pot of tea, a good catch up with a cherished friend and a slice of this cake. What could be better? image

Raspberry Victoria Sponge Adapted from a recipe by Jo Wheatley
200g Self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g soft butter
200g caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line two 20cm round sandwich tins. Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and beat for two minutes until you have a smooth batter. Don’t overbeat the mixture. Spoon into your cake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen, golden and the sponges spring back when pressed lightly. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

For the filling:
150ml double cream
125ml greek yoghurt
3 tbsp caster sugar
Finely grated zest of half a lemon About 5 tbsp raspberry jam
Fresh raspberries

Whip the double cream and greek yoghurt together until soft peaks. Stir in the caster sugar and lemon zest. Place one on your sponges on a plate. Spread with the raspberry jam. Pile the cream mixture on top and gently spread out towards the edges. Scatter the cream with raspberries and place the other sponge on top.

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I linked this post to Recipe of the week over at A Mummy Too  and the brand new link party cook blog share over at
Supergolden Bakes

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Mini Malteser Cheesecake

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Here’s a real indulgent sweet treat for you! I made this little Malteser cheesecake in my 5 inch round springform tin. If you want to make a larger cheesecake then you can easily double the ingredients ;-)

This turned out to be the perfect amount for the four of us. The only downside to this was there was no leftovers to be tempted by – although maybe that wasn’t a bad thing after all!

You can adapt this cheesecake to suit your sweet tooth and include your favourite chocolate – Crunchies, Snickers or Daim bars would all work really well here, to name just a few! Let your imagination run wild :-)

Mini Malteser Cheesecake
recipe by Nickki T Cookie’s Cakes and Bakes

70g digestive biscuits
30g melted butter
One 35g Malteser bar
125g full fat cream cheese
4 tbsp icing sugar
125ml double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g Maltesers

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Place the biscuits and the malteser bar in a food bag and bash to crumbs. Pour in the chocolatey biscuit crumbs and stir until you have a damp mixture. Press the buttery crumbs into your tin and press down. Place in the fridge to chill.

Whip the double cream until it holds softs peaks. Add the icing sugar, cream cheese and vanilla extract and mix well. Cut the maltesers in half and fold in. Pour into your tin and place in the fridge again. Leave to set for a couple of hours. Once the cheesecake is set, sprinkle over some crushed maltesers and enjoy :-)

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Cheesy-peasy oaty soda bread

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This is a perfect recipe for people who don’t believe they have time to make bread. Soda bread is extremely easy and quick to make. There is no kneading, no waiting around for dough to rise and it tastes extremely good. All it takes is a quick mix of the ingredients and you’re good to go.

We ate this bread spread with lots of salted butter and bowls of butternut squash soup. It would be really fantastic accompaniment alongside a ploughmans lunch :-)

Cheesy-peasy oaty soda bread

125g plain flour
125g wholemeal flour
50g oats, plus a handful for sprinkling over the top
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp honey
250ml buttermilk (if like me, you don’t usually buy buttermilk, you can make your own by squeezing half a lemon into 250ml whole milk, leave for 5 mins and stir)
100g good cheddar cheese, cubed plus a handful grated for sprinkling over the top.

Preheat the oven to 220C.

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Place the flours into a large bowl. Add the salt, bicarbonate of soda, honey, buttermilk and cheese cubes. Make a “claw” shape with your hand over the bowl and bring the ingredients together. You should have a soft, slightly sticky dough that isn’t too wet. If it’s too dry add a little more buttermilk. 

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Place the dough on an oiled baking tray and form it into a ball shape, not worrying if it doesn’t look too perfect! Rustic is good here.  Using a sharp knife, cut a deep cross in the top. This is apparently to let the fairies out, so I’m told! Sprinkle a small handful of oats and grated cheese over the top.

Bake at 220C for 10 minutes, then turn the oven to 200C and bake for a further 20-25 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when you tap the bottom. 

More baking with Sugar and Crumbs

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Remember a few posts ago when I told you the fabulous Sugar and crumbs sent me some baking goodies to play with? Well I spent yesterday afternoon baking up a storm with cherry bakewell icing sugar and coconut cocoa powder. Here are the results!

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I made my lovely friend Jo's cherry jam...

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I don't own a cherry pitter so things got pretty messy! I'm still finding little splatters of cherry juice on my kitchen surfaces.

You’ll find the recipe for Jo’s delicious jam right here

Cherry bakewell cupcakes

150g soft butter
150g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
100g self raising flour
75g ground almonds
Cherry jam
150g Sugar and Crumbs cherry bakewell icing sugar (I found this amount just enough to ice my twelve cupcakes.)

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Line a 12 hole tin with cupcake cases.

Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Stir in the almond extract. Fold in the self raising flour and ground almonds. Spoon the mixture into the cases, pop into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen and tinged light golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling and icing.

When the cupcakes are cold, cut out little circles of sponge in the centre of each cake (an apple corer is a very handy tool for this job!) and spoon in a little cherry jam, making sure you don’t let the jam ooze over the top. Empty the cherry bakewell icing sugar in a bowl (no need to sift – the texture is lovely and fine) and stir in a few drops of cool boiled water, a little at a time until you have a fairly thick icing. Spoon over each cupcake and top with a glace cherry.

Verdict: Lovely, light fluffy cupcakes. The cherry jam middle adds a lovely surprise. The cherry bakewell icing sugar smells exactly like, well, cherry bakewell obviously! This icing sugar is very sweet but not overpoweringly so. The almond flavour is very prominent. If you are a fan of Mr Kipling’s cherry bakewells I urge you to try this. You will love it!

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Chocolate Coconut Loaf Cake
recipe adapted from The River cottage book of cakes

150g soft butter
150g caster sugar
50g Sugar and Crumbs coconut cocoa powder
150g self raising flour
2 eggs
150ml coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and line a 450g loaf tin.

Place the flour and coconut cocoa powder in a bowl. Stir in the sugar. Using a mixer, beat in the butter and eggs. Beat for one minute until the batter is smooth. Stir in the coconut milk. Pour into the tin and bake for 45-50 minutes until the the cake is risen and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.

For the chocolate glaze:

50g butter
20g Sugar and Crumbs coconut cocoa powder
1-2 tablespoons milk
150g icing sugar, sifted

Melt the butter in a medium sized pan. Add the cocoa powder and stir well. Add the milk and icing sugar. Stir very well with a mini whisk until smooth. You should a fairly thick glaze, but not too thick it isn’t spoonable. Add a little more milk or icing sugar if you need to. Cover the top of the cake with the chocolate glaze and decorate with coconut and chopped Bounty bars.

Verdict: I have to admit I wasn’t that sure how the coconut cocoa powder was going to turn out – can you really taste the coconut? The answer is a big YES. This loaf smells divine. The coconut flavour really comes through. Out of the three products I tested for Sugar and Crumbs this was definitely my favourite. I will absolutely be ordering more!

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If you would like to order some goodies from Sugar and Crumbs just visit their website. You can allow follow them on Twitter @sugarandcrumbs and Facebook.

Black Forest Brownie Cookies

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One of my favourite pairings is chocolate and cherries. Black forest gateau is, in my opinion, one of the best cakes ever invented. Very 70′s. When I was little I had such a soft spot for those frozen Sara lee ones, they always seemed like such a massive treat. Even now, although I’m well aware that the mass produced treat of my childhood would be no match for a home made, lovingly decorated, fresh cream version, truth be told if I was offered a slice of the pre-made version any time of the day I wouldn’t turn it down!

But today I didn’t make a cake…as a homage to one of my all time favourite cakes I took a rich, dark chocolate brownie cookie recipe and added plump dried cherries.

This is definitely a very grown up cookie – mine turned out not too sweet and had a very rich chocolate flavour. I used my favourite Green & Blacks cocoa powder which I find always provides a real depth of flavour.

So from me to you, here is my recipe for black forest brownie cookies :-)

If you fancy an extra chocolate hit, you could always throw a handful of dark chocolate chips into the batter…in fact I think this would be a really good idea! ;-)

Black Forest Brownie Cookies

100G soft butter
150g caster sugar
One egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
100g dried cherries (I used Urban fruits)
Handful of dark chocolate chips, if you like

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a large baking tray.

Melt your chocolate and leave to cool.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. While still beating, add the egg and vanilla. Continue to beat until well blended and creamy. Pour in your melted cooled chocolate. Add the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda. Mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in the dried cherries. Using your hands, roll walnut sized balls of the cookie dough mixture and place on your lined baking tray. Place in the oven and bake for 5 mins. Remove the baking tray from the oven and tap it sharply a couple of times on a flat work surface. This is a tip from Jo Wheatley for lovely chewy cookies and it really works! Return to the oven and bake for a further 8-10 minutes. When the cookies are ready, remove from the oven and leave on the tray for 5 minutes (they will still be very soft) Remove from the baking tray and place on a wire rack.

Butternut squash, caramelised onion and Feta Galette and a bulghar wheat salad

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Since this week is National Vegetarian week, I thought it would be a good time to finally try some of the veggie recipes I’ve had my eye on. Dinner tonight was this fabulous butternut squash and caramelised onion Galette from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. This recipe has been on my list to make for a while now and now I wish I hadn’t waited so long to try it – it’s lovely! You can find the original recipe right here on The Smitten Kitchen blog, although the recipe on the blog is slightly different to the one in the book.

Here’s a few changes I made:

I halved the recipe to make a smaller Galette.

I used half plain, half wholemeal flour in the pastry (as in the book). I also used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. I didn’t add lemon juice, just ice cold water and 1/2 white wine vinegar.

I sprinkled a little dried thyme over the butternut squash before roasting.

I added feta cheese to the Galette, the saltiness of the feta worked so well with the sweet squash and slow cooked onions.

The pastry was so crispy and flaky. I was concerned the bottom of the Galette would be soggy but it wasn’t at all.

This was a keeper recipe! I will make it again and again.

I also made a bulghar wheat salad which was a lovely pairing with the Galette.

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Cucumber, cherry tomato, mint and feta bulghar wheat salad

200g Bulghar wheat
Half a cucumber, chopped
Good handful vine cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Large bunch fresh mint, chopped
Small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
150g Feta cheese, cubed
juice of half a lemon

Place the bulghar wheat in a large bowl. Stir in 1/2 tsp salt. Pour over boiling water, enough to cover the bulghar wheat and cover the bowl with a plate or cling film. Leave for about 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.

When the bulghar wheat has absorbed all the water, fluff the grains up with a fork and transfer to another bowl. Tip in your cucumber, tomatoes, herbs and feta and stir. Add lemon juice to taste.

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A very good Lasagne recipe

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One recipe that always goes down very well in our house at dinnertime is lasagne. I’ve tinkered with the recipe over the years and this is the result. I realise that everyone has their own way of making lasagne and this is mine. For someone who, only a few years ago, was only able to make lasagne from Dolmio jars (I know!!) I think it’s fair to say I’ve come a long way!!

The only thing I don’t make from scratch is the pasta sheets. Making my own pasta is something I’ve never done, but I would love to give it a go if I got my hands on a pasta machine (heavy hint to any family reading this, after all it is my Birthday next month!) ;-)

I was really stuck on a title for this post – I didn’t just want to call it “Lasagne”. I asked my 11 year old. He said “call it your very good lasagne recipe. Because that’s what it is!”. So here is, in my son’s words, my “very good lasagne recipe” :-)

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Very good Lasagne recipe

450g pack minced beef
One onion finely diced
One large clove garlic, crushed
50-75g diced pancetta
Handful of mushrooms if you fancy, chopped
Two tins chopped tomatoes
squirt of tomato puree
squirt of tomato ketchup (a brilliant cooking ingredient and no-one can convince me otherwise!)
Couple of bay leaves
2 tsp dried mixed herbs (or 1 tsp each dried oregano and basil)
A few shakes worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
1 tsp redcurrrant jelly or 1tsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 200C.

In a large pan, fry the minced beef until nice and brown. Add the chopped onion, crushed garlic and diced pancetta and stir. Cook for a couple of minutes until the pancetta starts to look crispy, then add the chopped mushrooms if using. Fry this mixture for another couple of mins, then add your chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, ketchup, dried herbs, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce and redcurrrant jelly or sugar. Half fill one of the empty cans of tomatoes with water and add to the pan. Add some seasoning, pop on a lid and simmer gently for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Slow is good here! Cooking the ragu slowly will give it an amazing depth of flavour.

Cheesy Bechamel sauce

50g butter
50g plain flour
Around 3/4-1 pint milk
One bay leaf
Half a nutmeg (I like my Bechamel nutmeg heavy but use less if you like!)
Salt and pepper
50g grated parmesan or cheddar

When making a white sauce I swear by the Delia Smith method, I’ve been making it for years and it works every time.

Place the butter, flour and 3/4 pint of milk in a saucepan on a medium to high heat. Stir very well with a whisk constantly to avoid lumps. When everything is looking smooth, add the rest of the milk and turn down the heat to low. Add the bay leaf, nutmeg and salt and pepper and simmer very gently for 15 minutes, stirring often. When the sauce has thickened, take the pan off the heat and stir in your grated cheese. Check to see if it needs more seasoning.

All that’s left to do now is assemble your lasagne. I’m sure I do the same as most people – a layer of ragu, then the pasta sheets, a covering of the white sauce, lasagne sheets then repeating exactly the same wayfinishing with the white sauce and a sprinkling of grated cheese. If I’ve got tomatoes in the fridge I’ll some some up for the top, it gives the dish a pretty finish!

Bake the lasagne for 40-45 minutes or until bubbling and looks pleasingly golden brown. I eat my lasagne with a fresh salad, I just love the contrast between the rich, hot ragu and the cool, crunchy fresh salad. My hubby and kids prefer chips! Personally I find the lasagne is filling enough without such a heavy accompaniment. But one addition we all insist on is lots of garlic bread :-)

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A Coconut & Lime cake for World Baking Day & a Sugar & Crumbs Product Review

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Since World Baking Day is upon us and the sun didn’t make an appearance in the Scottish Highlands today (which explains the lack of natural light in my pictures today – boo!) I decided to don my pinny and do a bit of baking.

Last week Sugar and Crumbs very kindly sent me a package of baking goodies to review. This delighted me because I love trying out new products!

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Coconut is one of my favourite flavours, so I decided to try the coconut and lime icing sugar first. As soon as I opened the packet a gorgeous aroma awakened my senses – the smell was heavenly! The first thing that struck me about this icing sugar was how finely textured it is – not a clump in sight!

I was delighted how well this cake turned out using the flavoured icing sugar. I will definitely be ordering some more flavours soon. They have a lovely selection on their website – I like the sound of the chilli chocolate cocoa powder!

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I could have actually done with two packets of the icing sugar for this recipe – while making the cake I quickly realised that the 125g pack wasn’t going to be quite enough to generously ice my cake. I just added a further 75g normal icing sugar which made just the right amount of buttercream, no more no less! To amp the flavours up, I added the zest of half a lime and a little squeeze of lime juice to the icing. But it’s not really essential because the icing sugar provides enough zesty coconutty flavour on its own.

Come back later in the week to see what else I made with my other Sugar &amp Crumbs goodies!

Coconut and Lime sponge cake

You will need two fairly deep 20cm cake tins, buttered and lined with parchment.

250g soft butter
250g caster sugar
Zest of two limes
4 eggs, beaten
250g self raising flour
25g cornflour
175ml coconut milk
50g dessicated coconut
1 tsp coconut extract

Measure out your coconut milk in a jug and stir in the dessicated coconut and coconut extract. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Add the lime zest then slowly add the eggs, mixing well after each addition. Fold in half of the flour and cornflour, then half of the coconut mixture. Fold in the remaining flour and coconut milk mixture until the batter is smooth. Spoon into your cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown on top and spring back when lightly pressed. Leave in the tins for 10 minutes then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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For the coconut & lime icing

125g bag Sugar and Crumbs coconut
& lime icing sugar
75g icing sugar
150g soft unsalted butter
Zest of half a lime
A little squeeze of lime juice
25g Toasted coconut for decoration

Beat the butter until soft and creamy, then add both icing sugars, the lime zest and a few drops of lime juice and beat on high speed until very soft and fluffy.

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Fancy a slice?

Thank you Sugar and Crumbs! If you would like me to test any more of your lovely products you know where I am ;-)

Rhubarb & Ginger Oat Crisp

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Thursday already, where are the weeks going?? This year is whizzing by at an alarming rate. Things have been so busy I’ve not had time for much baking, which is probably not a bad thing for my waistline! Recently my sister gave me some rhubarb and I had originally planned to make the gorgeous rhubarb and custard tea cake, but I really fancied making a fruit crisp. A crisp is basically an Amerian crumble. They often include oats in the recipe which I’m a big fan of, I love using oats in baking and they work particularly well in this recipe. The topping is SO good, the little crystallised ginger pieces work so well here. If you are a fan of the rhubarb ginger combination you are going to love this recipe!

This pudding would be delicious with vanilla ice cream, thick double cream or custard, but I can also confirm that it is rather nice cold! I ate a bowl of this for breakfast today with a dollop of Rachel’s Organic ginger yoghurt. It wasn’t a bad way to start the day at all!

So without further ado, I give you my recipe for rhubarb and ginger oat crisp. I prebaked the rhubarb for 10-15 minutes before adding the topping and it turned out perfect. If you wanted to I’m sure you could just crumble the topping over the raw rhubarb and bake for longer, around 40-45 minutes.

Rhubarb & Ginger Oat Crisp

900g Rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
75g vanilla caster sugar
100g plain flour
100g porridge oats
125g light brown sugar
125g butter, diced
1 1/2 tsp dried ginger (if you aren’t as much of a ginger fiend as I am cut it back to 1 tsp)
50g crystallised ginger, chopped finely (again, if you don’t want a big ginger hit cut it back to 25g)

Preheat the oven to 200C/375F /Gas 5.

Place the chopped rhubarb in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the vanilla sugar. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the rhubarb is slightly tender.

Place the flour, oats and sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the dried and crystallised ginger. Tip this mixture over the rhubarb and press down lightly, making sure the rhubarb is evenly covered.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the rhubarb is tender and the topping is nicely crisped up.

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Pretty pink rhubarb!

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