Lemon and Raspberry Crumble Bars

Here’s a fabulous recipe for using up the end of the summer raspberries, or just finishing off the jam to make a new batch come the autumn. Boo hoo, is summer really starting to draw to a close? 😦

These bars are a crisp lemon shortbread base, topped with jam and raspberries (slightly squishy is just fine) and topped with a lemon and cinnamon scented crumble. This gives a perfect three layer texture of crisp, sticky and crumbly.

These rather delicious raspberry and lemon crumble (or streusel if you like) bars are inspired by some fruity crumble bars my lovely grandmother used to buy. My grandparents used to live in a ‘granny annexe’, so just next door, and often when my mother was at work I’d spend the day with them. They were lovely, kind grandparents and we’d have fun, but they were also the older generation at a time when older people seemed to prefer a calm orderly lifestyle. So the days would have some predictability with a cooked lunch folllowed by some ‘quiet time’ while my grandmother read her book and my grandfather would sleep in front of the snooker on television (how come snooker was always on I have no idea!). Then we’d walk the dog and return home for tea and a cake or biscuit. She often had these fruity crumble bars in the cupboard and I particularly liked them. So here’s a recreation of that memory, made in honour of some easy, happy times – probably nothing like the original but rather tasty and tempting nonetheless!

Lemon and Raspberry Crumble Bars

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 9

for the base:

100g margarine, melted

50g caster sugar

zest of 1 lemon

pinch of salt

125g plain flour

  1. Stir all the ingredients together and then press into a lined, square baking tin
  2. Bake at 180 degrees for 20 mins until golden
  3. Leave to cool

for the filling:

1/2 cup raspberry jan

handful of raspberries

  1. Spread over the cooked shortbread base and dot with halved raspberries

for the topping:

40g oats

60g soft brown sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

zest of 1/2 a lemon

40g flour

50g margarine

  1. Rub the margarine into the ingredients together to make a rough crumble
  2. Sprinkle over the jam covered base
  3. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 180 degrees Centigrade until crisp and golden
  4. Leave to cool and then drizzle with water icing (if desired) and cut into squares

Raspberry and Chocolate Chip Sablé Biscuits, failed challenges and a fresh start.

 

Recently I’ve felt that my blog has gone off the boil, that my recipes were dull and not very inspiring, the photos were so-so and better resources could be found elsewhere. Maybe I needed a break, just to give it up or a fresh approach? These have been tough times in working out whether to invest any time and effort into creating and posting for my blog.

I think having a baked milk challenge approaching for both girls made me think that maybe it was becoming less relevant for myself too. Perhaps we had got to another stage of our journey that needed a new approach?

To be honest, we were rather surprised when the Doctor suggested a baked milk challenge at our most recent appointment – it seemed out of the blue since they both had sizeable wheals from the skin prick results and we have certainly never been on the cusp of any ‘advances’ before. Actually, although we’ve always been lucky enough to have had fantastic care from our allergy specialists, this year was different. The doctor was new and had a surprising approach, she wanted to discharge big S as she claimed that the appointments weren’t necessary and there was unlikely to be any further change at this stage. As most people who have tried know, it’s so hard to get under the care of a specialist that we really weren’t keen to lose this support. This particular doctor also said that skin prick tests were worthless and they should both have a baked milk challenge as it was the only way to really diagnose an allergy. I get her point to some extent, but those are not particularly helpful comments for the girls who have spent their entire lives having yearly skin prick tests!

Anyway she requested blood tests, about which Little S was rather nervous and tearful, hardly surprisingly as she’s previously had a difficult experience with a cannula involving lots of blood and bruises! I have to say that I was rather shocked by her response. She offered no compassion, despite being a paediatric doctor and said it was up to us if we had bloods taken, but if we did’t she’d write down that we refused her advice. I was dumbfounded, should a children’s doctor not have some understanding over the anxiety involved? Anyway, we did the bloods and Little S fainted as she stood up afterwards – it certainly was an eventful day.

Well the food challenge itself was the other week and in short: both girls failed. It was upsetting and a setback, but not unexpected either. Since the challenge my thoughts have turned back to my blog and why I started it in the first place, why I felt the desire to help others in a similar position, and how hard I’ve found it myself. I’ve also had some wonderful recent (and past) comments from readers, really lovely thoughts that have made me feel that all my experiments and recipes are of use. I feel reinvigorated and excited about creating and blogging! Expect a flurry of innovation (I hope) to follow.

I really think I’ve found the holy grail for egg and dairy free biscuits with this recipe. They’re the perfect combination of crisp crunch, turning to ‘buttery’ melt and chew. You couldn’t ask for much more from a biscuit texture.

The combination of raspberry and chocolate is always one that works, it’s tried and tested. Do try using freeze-dried fruits in your baking, they add so much of the flavour and character without any ‘sogginess’ that fresh fruit can bring.

It really is essential to chill the dough before baking – an hour will do, at a push 15 minutes in the freezer will suffice. But if at all possible, chill for as long as possible for the very best textured biscuits.

Raspberry and Chocolate Chip Sable Biscuits

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes about 12-15

90-100g chocolate, chopped

2 tbsp chopped freeze dried raspberries

100g plain flour

pinch of bicarbonate of soda

75g dairyfree margarine

85g caster sugar

1/2 tsp good quality flaky salt, such as fleur de sel

  1. Cream together the margarine, sugars and salt.
  2. Gently mix in the flour and bicarbonate and combine to form a soft dough. Stir in the chocolate pieces and freeze dried raspberries.
  3. Form into a sausage shape and wrap in cling film. Place in the fridge to chill, you want it to be as cold as possible.
  4. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade.
  5. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Slice the cookie dough into 1cm slices and place well apart on the baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 11-12 minutes. They should have spread out nicely.
  7. Cool briefly on the sheets so they are stiff enough to move and then transfer to a wire rack.

Raspberry and Lemon Flapjacks

dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free raspberry and lemon flapjacks

You simply can’t beat a flapjack for energy giving deliciousness but sometimes you want more than just sweet syrupy oats. I’m very fond of coconut flapjacks, but the girls aren’t so keen, so I’m constantly trying to develop new, exciting flavours to enhance such a simple staple.

This version uses freeze dried raspberries and lemon juice/ zest and boy, is it delicious or what! The freeze dried nuggets give a wonderful sweet berry tang and the lemon enhances and flavour and very slightly cuts through the sweetness. They may now be my all time favourite flapjack combination!

Raspberry and Lemon Flapjacks

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, can be gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

vegan raspberry and lemon flapjacks

200g dairy free margarine (I use Pure soya or sunflower)

200g demerara sugar

200g golden syrup

400g oats (preferably not giant oats)

1/2 tsp salt

1/3rd cup freeze-dried raspberry pieces

zest of 1 lemon, juice of 1/2

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Line a 30×20 cm (approx.) baking tray with foil
  2. Melt together the dairy free margarine, sugar, syrup, lemon juice, zest and salt. When the sugar has dissolved mix into the oats, stir in the raspberry pieces
  3. Spread into the lined baking tray
  4. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden
  5. remove from the oven and press down with a spatula for an even finish
  6. Cool well before cutting into bars/squares. Or freeze whole and cut when defrosted.
  7. Try not to eat too many!!

 

Mixed Berry and Elderflower Ice Lollies

I’ve mentioned before the problems we have in buying ice lollies. Some own brand supermarket options are OK for us, but on the whole we can rarely buy ice lollies from ice cream vans or shops, due to them possibly containing nut or milk traces. This can be particularly painful on sticky hot days, especially when we’re out with friends and other children are tucking into refreshing ice creams, and my girls have to sit and watch empty handed 😦

These stunning homemade lollies don’t solve that problem, but they make a fab treat or summer pudding, and a great way for children to eat masses of fruit without realising it! The texture is soft and more like a set sorbet than an icy lolly, making these perfect for all family members.

Mixed Berry and Elderflower Ice Lollies (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

IMG_5796

Makes 4

  • 200g strawberries
  • 100g raspberries
  • 1-3 tbsps icing sugar, to taste depending on the sharpness of the berries
  • 1 cup apple and elderflower pressed juice, or elderflower cordial (diluted)

– Whizz or mash the berries and pass through a sieve
– Taste and add sugar as desired
– Stir in the juice
– Pour into ice lolly moulds and freeze

IMG_5797

Egg-free Raspberry Pavlova

Here’s the second outing for my winning no egg meringue recipe – this time making one large meringue as the base for a Pavlova (for the lovely Somer, you can still have a Pavlova! :-)). I wasn’t sure it would work, but the base turned out great, it just took longer to cook in the oven. I can’t claim that this is exactly the same as a traditional pavlova made from egg whites and oodles of cream, but it’s a pretty fine vegan/allergy-friendly version. Just make sure to assemble just before eating or the meringue base will start to meld with the cream, losing the chewy, crispy meringue layer.

Egg-free Raspberry Pavlova (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan) warning: contains soya

makes one pavlova that easily serves 4

  • 6 tbsps icing sugar, sifted
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp soya protein
  • 3 tbsps cold water
  • ½ tsp cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1½ tsps soya protein
  • 1 pack soyatoo whipping cream
  • 1 punnet raspberries, ¼ of which crushed, sieved and mixed with 1tsp icing sugar
  • icing sugar, to dust

– Preheat the oven to 110 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark ½

– Line a baking sheet with baking paper/parchment

– In a small bowl whisk together the icing sugar, xanthan gum and 1 tsp of soya protein. Set aside.

– In a large bowl place the water, vinegar, vanilla and 1½ tsps soya protein. Whisk on high speed for up to 10 minutes until it has increased considerably in size, and is fluffy and bubbly.

– Keeping the whisk on high add the icing sugar mix, 1 tbsp at a time. The mixture should eventually turn pure white and leave stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted out of the mix (I found the peaks were not quite as stiff as one would expect from an egg-based meringue)

– Pipe or spoon the mix onto the lined baking sheet, and spread into a thick circle.

– Place in the oven for up to 2½ hours, until the meringue are totally set and will easily peel off the paper.

– Remove from the oven, peel off the paper and leave to cool.

– When ready to serve: whip the soya cream and smother the top of the meringue.

– Scatter raspberries all over the top. Drizzle the crushed raspberry sauce over the top.

– Dust with icing sugar, and serve