It’s suddenly got to that time of year -Winter is most certainly here but it’s not quite Christmas! It may be the craziest year ever with days of lockdown merging into months, ever more depressing news and stress everywhere, but there is still something joyful and comforting in the seasons. I’ve always felt so lucky to live somewhere where years are marked by definite seasons, I think I’d really miss them if I lived somewhere with wet and dry instead.
Winter has its downsides (I’m mainly talking about the dark and the annoying habit of house spiders to scuttle about) but the beauty of the colourful leaves, the bounty of the harvest and the delight of a beautiful chilly morning easily out way them.
It’s time to get cosy, to eat comfort food and delight in the low sun and long shadows. These berry crumble bars are the perfect early Winter treat; comforting but with the remains of summer in the form of the berry jam filling. By all means use a different jam, but I find a berry jam adds a beautiful red band as well as a fresh tartness that brings the shortbread and crumble alive. Although it would be a travesty to only eat them in the Winter – big S has pronounced these her favourite sweet thing I’ve ever baked! That must be saying something as I bake new things all the time!
I’ve made these with both a simple crumble topping, or a fancier crumble and candied seed topping. Both are delicious, just pick the variety you’d prefer.
This recipe is inspired and adapted from one in the original Ottolenghi cookbook. I don’t mind admitting that I’m a bit obsessed with Ottolenghi and his amazing flavour filled food, so I was dleighted to be able to adapt one of his delicious recipes to cater for us as a family. I have a few others up my sleeve, so keep watching 🙂
I like to serve these in packed lunches wrapped in paper, for a teatime treat or even warmed slightly and served with custard for an autumnal pudding. They’d even work for a breakfast if you were inclined!
Berry Crumble Bars (with optional candied seed topping)
(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)
makes 12 good sized bars
120g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
60g caster sugar
pinch of salt
100g dairy-free margarine
5 or 6 tbsp jam (about half a jar)
for a crumble top:
60g plain flour
10g pumpkin seeds (optional)
30g dairy-free margarine
25g demarara sugar
for the candied seeds:
30g pumpkin seeds
30g sunflower seeds
30g caster sugar
30g dairy-free margarine
20ml dairy free milk
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade. Line a square baking tin with non-stick baking paper
- Pour the flour, baking owder, salt, caster sugar and oats into a bowl. Cut the margarine into small cubes and add to the bowl. Rub in the margarine with your fingertips until it ressembles fine breadcrumbs
- Lightly press the mix into the base of the lined tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Whilst the base is cooking make the crumble top: place the flour, oats, seeds (if using) and demarara sugar into a bowl. Again rub in the margarine until you have a craggy crumble. Set aside.
- To make the candied seeds (if using): melt together the margarine, milk and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the oats and seeds.
- Once the base has cooled a little, spread over the jam in an even layer.
- (if using candied seeds) Spead the seeds over the jam.
- Sprinkle over the crumble topping.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
- Let cool fully befre cutting into square.
- These bars keep for a good week in an airtight container.