Thursday, 10 October 2013

Bakewell Slices

It saddens me no end that for some, lunch is no more than yet another chore, a necessary act of refuelling before we steel ourselves for whatever the afternoon has in store. Be it limp sandwiches, dry crackers and crisp-breads or that last doleful banana (you know, the one that sits in your bag, slowly but purposely penetrating the contents with it's sickly scent), too many lunchboxes have become uninspiring to the point of melancholia and frankly, we deserve better. We deserve a little treat, a little forgotten surprise or a dainty delicacy we can look forward to during our morning's exertions. There are plenty of slices, squares, cookies and cakes for you to try on my humble blog, but one of my favourite recipes is this one for bakewell slices. They are great fun to make, delicious to eat and keep brilliantly, so no excuse not to make them at the weekend ready for Monday's lunchbox!

Prep time: Around 30 Minutes
Baking time: Around 50-55 Minutes
For the base
175g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
225g Caster sugar
1 Large Egg plus 1 Yolk
1tsp Vanilla Extract
225g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder

For the topping
100g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
100g Caster Sugar
100g Ground Almonds
2tsp Almond Extract
2 Egg Yolks
50g Flaked Almonds
340g Raspberry Jam (About a jar)
50g Flaked Almonds

For the icing
50g Icing Sugar
2tsp Water

To the kitchen once more! Begin by preheating the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a large rectangular baking or roasting tin (I used one around 32x22cm) and line with baking paper. If you can line with one single piece of baking paper it will help no end when it comes to removing the baked slices later. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg and yolk, along with the vanilla extract. Sift in the flour and baking powder then mix to a smooth, relatively stiff batter. Blob into your prepared tin and carefully smooth to the edges. This is actually the trickiest part! Place in the centre of the oven for around 20-25 Minutes, until the base is golden brown and feels set to the touch.

Whilst the base is baking you can prepare the topping. In a clean bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then mix in the ground almonds, almond extract and egg yolks until evenly combined. Leave to one side until you need it.

When the base is baked remove from the oven. Spoon over the jam and even to the edge, leaving a border of about 1cm around the edge. Using a teaspoon, blob (wow, two 'blobs' in one blog!) a little of the almond topping mixture all over, again leaving a small border. It doesn't matter if there are a few gaps between each blob (three blobs!) as it will spread and rise during baking. Scatter over the flaked almonds and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes, until the topping is a golden, toasty brown. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 30 minutes (Which helps everything firm up a bit), then carefully remove (You can leave on the paper) and place on a wire rack until cool.

To finish, peel the paper from the edge of the baked mixture and cut off each of the four edges, which you can discard or nibble on as you finish everything else off. Slice into your slices and peel each from their baking paper base. Mix together the icing sugar and water, using a little whisk or one of those looped whisk things (I'm still not sure what their exact purpose is), then drizzle a little over each slice. There you go, ready for your lunchbox!

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