It's been too long.
It was nice to take Sunday afternoon off to just bake. I like the hands-on stuff --- I like kneading a soft bread dough and have my fingers rub through butter and flour for that perfect shortcrust. I like the anticipation of it in the oven whilst I make the kitchen spotless. And I love the smell and the warmth and the happiness it brings to everyone. I just think baking is the closest thing to love. And I hate not being able to do it enough.
It's not about the lack of time. I think I just need space. I need that solitary cooking with jazz in the background. I've yet to have a place to call home unfortunately. I've moved every year for the past 5 years, so I've never made a conscious effort to make a place homey. Knowing that it's just temporary, I buy items that can be disposed at the end of my tenancy in order to facilitate the move to the new place. More than anything I just want to have my own proper kitchen. I dream. I'm young. Maybe a few years later with a couple of salary increases I can realize that dream. In the mean time, I cook when I'm not in anybody's way or if I'm in desperate need of a therapeutic activity.
These chocolate cherry crumble bars are great. I know it's just blowing my own trumpet, but the crumble on top has cocoa nibs for that extra crunch and bitterness, then there's the sweet cherry jam in the middle that's a bit sticky, and lastly a nice shortbread to hold it all together.
makes about 16 small squares
200g plain flour
50g soft brown sugar
125g butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
400g cherry jam
20g cocoa nibs
50g soft brown sugar
70g butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 180C and grease a 20cm square tin and line it with baking paper.
Make the shortbread base by mixing together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and add to the bowl, use your fingertips to rub it into the dry ingredients and do so until it resembles wet sand.
Press the mixture into the tin evenly and then push the dough up an extra cm at the edges. Put in the fridge to chill while you prepare the topping.
For the topping, mix together the flour, cocoa, cocoa nibs and soft brown sugar. Stir in the melted butter and mix to incorporate.
Take the shortbread out from the fridge and spread evenly with jam, leaving a 0.5cm border. Break up the crumble topping to evenly cover the jam. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Leave to cool completely before cutting and consuming.