Sunday, 5 September 2010

BENEDICT BARS

With a definite tinge of autumn in the air now, especially first thing in the morning (there was dew on the grass and mist in the air when I set off for work last Tuesday morning), and in the evening, my culinary thoughts start turning to homely, comforting recipes: cakes and cookies which go well with steaming cups of tea and a toes-up on the sofa.

Benedict Bars originate from South Africa,wedges of shortbread with an almond and raspberry jam topping, but I first discovered them in Dorset, at a little artisan bakery called Long Crichel Bakery, which is hidden away down a lane with grass growing up the middle of it, in the village of Long Crichel, near Blandford Forum. You can buy bread and cakes from the bakery, or sample them at Long Crichel Tea Rooms in Wimborne. (for more information visit http://www.longcrichelbakery.co.uk/). There a many hidden foodie gems in Dorset - you just have to know where to look for them.

Benedict Bars are reminiscent of Bakewell Tart in their combination of almond and raspberry flavours, but that is where the similarity ends. They are easy to make and are very popular at my annual World's Biggest Coffee Morning, which I host in support of Macmillan Cancer Care. This year's coffee morning will have a special resonance for me as a good friend recently died from cancer. She was a fan of this blog and told me, only a month or so before she passed away, that she enjoyed reading my posts, because she found trying to read a book or magazine just too tiring.

This recipe is from a book calling Baking with Passion.

Makes 16

For the shortbread:

  • 5oz/140g unsalted butter, softened
  • 8oz/225g plain flour
  • 4 tbsp cornflour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 4oz/110g unrefined vanilla caster sugar
  • A pinch of sea salt

Heat the oven to 180C/360F/gas mark 4. Lightly butter a 94in x 8in/24cm x 20cm baking tray. Dice the butter into a bowl. Sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder on top, then add the sugar and salt. Form it gently into a ball and flatten the mixture to fit the tin.

For the topping:

  • 3oz/85g unsalted butter
  • 2oz/55g unrefined vanilla caster sugar
  • 7oz/200g flaked almonds
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • Good quality raspberry or strawberry jam

Heat everything together (except the jam) over a low heat until the butter has melted, then leave to cool. Spread a thin layer of jam over the surface of the dough with a palette knife, then spread the topping mixture over the jam. Bake for 25–30 minutes.

Cut into wedges.
Serve.
Eat.

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