What a great event, thanks to all of you…

I couldn’t be more excited to share a few images with all of you from our event this past August 22nd.  For those of you who came and shared a night of shopping, cake, and bubbly with Lisa and I, thank you, thank you!! We had  a beautiful warm summer night to share with our friends; new and old!

For those of you who couldn’t make it, we promise to have more events in the near future so no need to feel you’ve missed out. But at least you can see what you were missing…

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Stony Lake Furniture Co. was the perfect backdrop for our twinkle lights, candles, and table settings. 

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Cake tasting box; 8 assorted cakes, mini pavlovas with blueberries & cream

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For our gluten free customers; individual pavlovas with lemon cream & fresh berries

imageThank you, from Lisa and I for coming out and supporting local.  We love our cute little village and want to share and promote all that it offers with you!

photo credit: hazlewood images

Lemon Zucchini Loaf

Since moving out to the country I’ve had the pleasure of having my own veggie garden, and lots of friends who have much bigger gardens that produce even more fruits and veggies.  Good friends of mine Vicki and Don, often trade herbs and beautiful vegetables with me, especially once a particular veggie starts to over produce.  Lots of times I’m not sure what to do with all of it, as it seems to blooms all at once!  Since the summer is coming to a close I thought it might be nice to do something a little different with all those zucchinis you may have producing in your garden.  I know Vicki and Don are over flowing with them right now so I came up with ‘Lemon Zucchini Loaves’ that would be nice in the morning with tea or even packed in a lunch box for the kids.

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I decided to make them into mini loaves so I could put a few in the freezer and pull them out later.  Making mini loaves helps keep them fresher for longer because you are not slicing up one big loaf. The more air that the bread is exposed to the quicker it will dry out. 

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This was my first attempt at making a zucchini loaf.  It was really moist and light, but I felt something was missing.  I really like the lemon, it added a nice zing to punch up the flavour, especially the lemon glaze drizzled on top. A nice touch might be to add a herbed butter as well, just a side thought to spruce things up.

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Recipe:

makes 12 mini loaves or 1- 9”x11” loaf

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted Stirling butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice and the zest of the lemon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini 

Lemon Glaze

  • 1/2 cup sifted icing sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F
  • line or grease mini loaf pans or 9x11” loaf pan
  • In large bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside
  • In another bowl, beat 2 eggs well, then add melted butter (make sure your butter still isn’t hot or you will cook your eggs) add sugar, and blend well. Add the buttermilk, lemon juice, zest and blend.
  • Stir in grated zucchini until evenly distributed in mixture.
  • Add dry ingredients, lightly stir just until combined. Do not over mix!
  • Spoon batter into mini loaf pans (or lage loaf pan)
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes or until sides start to brown.  For the large loaf bake for approx. 40-45 minutes
  • Meanwhile make your lemon glaze
  • In a bowl whisk icing sugar and lemon juice together
  • once loaves have cooled a little, drizzle glaze over the top (you can poke holes into the top of the loaves with a toothpick,  this way the glaze will soak more into the loaf)

and enjoy!!

Happy gardening and baking.

The French Macaron

When it comes to the french, there are a few things that I truly believe should be left to them; like the French Macaron! They are perfectionists when it comes to their food/baking and especially their pastries.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m a little biased and wish these pretty sweets would be left in the hands of the french! They are not the easiest confection to master, and boxes and boxes of macarons in grocery stores, variety stores, and big box stores do not do these special sweets justice. The best way to understand or to respect this, would be to try and make them yourself! 

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You need to have patience, and to follow the recipe exactly; any type of short cut will only end badly! Mostly you need to find your rhythm in making the french macaron. The more you make them the better you’ll get, like anything in life really! 

I’ve put together a few tips and tricks that can help you when tackling these light, chewy marcarons. I’ve also attached a recipe for one of my favourite macaron flavours, Lemon!

Ingredients:

Makes approx. 16

Macaron Shells;

  • 3 egg whites at room temperature 
  • 1/4 cup (55g) superfine (caster) sugar
  • yellow food colouring (I prefer the gel colouring)
  • 1 1/4 cups (200g) sifted icing sugar
  • 1 cup (120g) ground almonds
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon rind

Macaron Filling;

  • 1/3 cup stirling unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups sifted icing sugar
  • 3 Tbsp melted white chocolate
  • 1  Tbsp whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Recipe:

  • Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper
  • Blend sifted icing sugar, ground almonds, and lemon rind in a bowl. Set aside
  • Beat egg whites in a large bowl in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form.  Slowly add instant sugar and a few drops of food colouring, beat until sugar dissolves and stiff, glossy peaks form.  Lightly fold sifted icing sugar, ground almonds and lemon rind into the egg whites, approx. 40 folds
  • Spoon mixture into piping bag fitted with 2cm (3/4inch) plain tube.  Pipe 4cm rounds about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Tap trays on the counter so macarons spread slightly to a smooth surface. Dust macarons with extra sifted icing sugar.
  • Let stand for 30 minutes on trays to form a skin.  Meanwhile preheat oven to 300˚F
  • Bake for approx. 18-20 minutes. Cool on trays

For the filling

  • Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. Add melted chocolate and whipping cream, and lemon juice. Beat until soft and well incorporated.
  • once macarons are cooled, pipe a small amount of white chocolate lemon filling and sandwich together. 

Tips and Tricks

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  • Grind almond flour and powdered sugar together, then sift through a fine mesh sieve to make sure there aren’t any lumps. 
  • Make sure your mixing bowl is clean. Any residual fat/grease can sabotage your meringue. 
  • Beat your egg whites until soft and foamy before adding sugar. Then slowly add your sugar in approx. 3 batches. This helps dissolve the sugar.
  • Perfect your folding. Under-folding the macaronage (aka macaron batter) will result in too-puffy macarons, while over-folding can create hard, flat ones. To perfect your folding, use a wide bowl and a rubber (or silicone) spatula.  Make sure you don’t have any unincorporated flour or meringue on your bowl or spatula.
  • The consistency you are looking for after folding all the almond mixture is “magma” (lava) It should flow like magma (lava) from your spatula when you lift some batter up with your spatula. A ribbon should also form in the batter when the magma falls down. This takes about 40 folds.
  • As you pipe, hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks.
  • Tap from the bottom. Hold the baking sheet with one hand and tap the bottom of the pan firmly in a few places with the other, making sure to tap below each section of macarons. Then do one final tap on the counter. Tapping removes bubbles, and tapping from the bottom helps ensure you don’t miss any.
  • Let the skin form. This takes about 20-30 minutes. A skin should form around the macaron. The sides and top should not be sticky. Touch it before baking.
  • Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through baking so that the  cookies bake to an even pale gold.
  • Don’t remove the shells until they’re completely cool. 
  • Don’t over fill your macaron, the classic french way isn’t over done with filling. 

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I hope these tips are helpful while making your french macarons. They aren’t the easiest to make, but are worth all the work.  Perhaps you’ll appreciate them a little more once you’ve tackled it on your own. I know I do!

Happy Baking!

Bon Appétit 

Home Made Ice Cream Sandwiches

It’s the big summer craze these days; Ice Cream Sandwiches!

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Ice cream shops are popping up all over the place, restaurants are featuring them on their dessert menu and it seems like every where you turn they are the dessert of choice this summer.

Here in the Kawartha’s Chef Carrie at The Riverhouse has homemade ice cream sandwiches that are to die for.  My favourite is her ginger cookies with cream and rhubarb ice cream.  The home made ice cream is so light and refreshing with a spicy ginger cookie to finish it off!! Yum!

Lots of shops in Toronto are popping up like the popular Bang Bang Ice Cream and Bakery on Ossington St.  You get to pick your type of cookie and your ice cream making it your very own.

But why not make your own? It relatively easy and fun.  The only difficult part is waiting for the ice cream to re-freeze! Here I made chocolate wafers and paired it with Kawartha Dairy’s Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.  It’s a popular flavour that everyone likes, so you can keep them in the freezer to impress any visitors that may swing by this summer.  

You can change up the ice cream or make a few different varieties.  Last summer I made them with our Toll House Cookies paired with vanilla ice cream!! They were a big hit.

Ingredients:

Chocolate Wafer Cookies:

  • 3/4 cup Stirling unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp  vanilla
  • 1-1/4 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 2/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

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Directions:

  • Let ice cream sit at home temperature for approx. 30 minutes, just until it starts to melt
  • Line a 9”x11” baking dish with parchment paper, leaving the edges of the parchment paper to over hang (this way you can easily lift out the ice cream with the extra parchment paper)
  • Empty the ice cream into the lined 9x11 banking dish and level the ice cream out. Cover with foil and place it back in the freezer until set, about an hour
  • Meanwhile bake your cookies
  • In a bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt until blended
  • Add to butter mixture; stir until blended. Don’t worry if the batter is thick, it’s suppose to be
  • Divide batter in half and shape into 2 flat discs. Wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour
  • On a lightly floured surface roll out 1 disc at a time to approx. 1/4-inch (5 mm) thickness
  • Using a floured 3-inch (8 cm) fluted edge cutter or other shape, cut out shapes. Arrange, 2 inches apart, on parchment lines baking pans
  • Bake at 350°F oven, for about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to cooling racks; let cool completely
  • Pull ice cream out of freezer and using the same cutter cut ice cream into 6-8 rounds. Place rounds on cooled cookies, and sandwich together.  Place back into freezer and re-freeze for about 30-60 minutes. It really depends on how fast you work and how quickly the ice cream melts. Make sure the cookies are cooled or they will melt the ice cream (I put mine in the fridge to cool faster)

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You can wrap them up individually for a fun and professional look.  Use parchment paper cut into rectangles and tie with coloured rope.

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Happy ice cream sandwich making!

Muffins, light and sweets like Cake!

Growing up with parents that have sweet tooth’s and enjoy working in the kitchen has its benefits for everyone in the family.  Especially when your Dad craves my Moms baking, she is always happy to please him with his favourites! Which mean us kids got to reap the benefits too! One of my Dad’s favourites are my Mom’s blueberry muffins, and there is no question why he loves them… they taste like cake! They are light airy and bursting with fruit.  You can use any fruit that you’d like but blueberry is the most popular in our family.  

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This recipe came from Edna Staebler’s More Food That Really Schmecks. If you are familiar with Edna and her famous books on Mennonite cooking then you will know that she does desserts very well too!

These muffins are best served the day of, and nothing beats warm muffins served right from the oven!! The tops of the muffins go a little sticky once you put them into an airtight container and I find they can dry out pretty fast.  Although we don’t have too much of a problem in our house as they never stick around long enough!

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Here I’ve made strawberry rhubarb and blueberry muffins.  You can have fun mixing up the fruit and trying different combinations, a mixed berry muffins would be lovely too!

The most important thing to remember when making muffins is you never want to over mix the batter!! Especially when you are adding fruit, as you’ll be mixing the batter a little extra to make sure you incorporate the fruit into the batter.  All you want to do is fold the fruit in a few times.  

Recipe: makes 10-12 muffins

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted stirling unsalted butter
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup blueberries (or your choice of fruit)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375˚F
  • Fill a muffin tin with paper cups, set aside
  • Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the egg
  • In a separate bowl whisk flour, baking powder and salt together
  • Add dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture alternating with the milk  just until combined *DO NOT OVER MIX
  • fold in your berries
  • Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes

Sever warm

Hope you enjoy these muffins as much as my family and my Dad does. Even though you don’t need it, my dad smothers them in butter too!! I recommend Stirling Whey Butter, full of rich butter flavour!!

Butter Tart Squares

A Canadian favourite.. butter tarts! Whether they’re runny: or thick; filled with nuts or raisins; or fall apart in your hands; butter tarts are always a popular sweet.  The rich, buttery maple flavour is what ‘us’ Canadian’s have come to recognize and love in a butter tart.  I grew up with my Grandma’s all time best butter tarts (to this day I haven’t tasted a butter tart that has even come close to her’s). Sadly after she passed the responsibility was left to me, since I was the only one she had shown her recipe to.  But I could never get it right!! And that’s one of the reasons that drove me to take baking classes at George Brown College!  To this day I still feel the pleasure from the family to get it just like Grandma’s.  Baking is funny sometimes, we could all sit down with the same recipe but results may taste and look different.  Sometimes you just have it and sometimes you don’t! My Grandma had a knack for pastry, she didn’t even need a recipe!

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Butter tarts can be overwhelming to make and a bit messy.  That’s why I wanted to share this easy version of butter tarts made into squares.  I find the recipe straight forward, easy and mess free, and they taste just as good as a butter tart (except Grandma’s). They have a buttery shortbread crust topped with that rich, maple like filling that we all love!

You can play around with the recipe too, make them as runny as you’d like by baking them less, or thicken them up by baking them longer.  You can add favourites like raisins, currants, or toasted pecans tp make them your own. 

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I hope you enjoy baking these.. whether you have it or not, it sill can be fun to play in the kitchen! 

Recipe:
 
For the crust:
  • 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Stirling Churn 84 butter

For the filling:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Stirling unsalted melted butter
  • 1/2 cup raisins, pecans (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour

Directions:

  • Mix first three ingredients in food processor or mixing bowl with a pastry cutter until crumbly.
  •  Press into greased or covered with parchment 9x12” baking  pan.  
  • Bake the base at 350 degrees for 10 - 13 mins.   
For the filling:
  • Beat eggs and brown sugar with until well blended.  
  • Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well.  
  • Pour over base.
  •  Bake 25 - 30 mins. until set.  

Cut into small squares as they are very rich. Store in an airtight container…if there are any left!

Grapefruit Cake

My friends and family mean the world to me, and they are my biggest supporters in my business. They are the reason my business developed and has become what it is today. Hence my logo 'Simply Sweet, Baking for Friends'!

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It’s not often I get to see all of my friends, with busy schedules, growing families and distance to hold us back.  But every few months we make time to plan a get together, and what’s better than a picnic in the park? 

Planning a picnic is fun and easy, as long as everyone contributes to the meal.  Have each person in charge of bringing one or two snacks and a game with them (I brought ‘pick-up sticks’). Add a blanket, a picnic kit of plates and cutlery and voila!!

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I wanted to make a cake that was light and refreshing but didn’t want to make anything too elaborate as I’d have to carry it around.  I ended up with the sweetest bundt cake made from fresh grapefruit! It was a big hit with the girls!! I brought little boxes with me for leftovers and everyone got an extra piece to take home :)

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Recipe:

Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grapefruit zest
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
3/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Syrup
1 cup grapefruit juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar

Glaze
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grapefruit juice

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Grease a bundt pan with oil then dust with flour or a 9×5-inch loaf pan 
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, rub the sugar and zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
  • Add the eggs to the bowl with the sugar mixture and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and the whisk leaves a trail.
  • With the mixer running, add the milk, then the oil and finally the vanilla.
  • With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients, beating just until combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.
  • While the cake is baking, make the syrup: Combine the grapefruit juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then continue to simmer for 1 minute.
  • When you remove the cake from the oven, transfer to a wire rack (still in the pan). Immediately use a skewer to poke deep holes into the cake (about 3/4-inch apart). Brush the cake with the syrup, pausing as necessary to allow it to soak in. Keep brushing the cake until you’ve used all of the syrup.
  • Let the cake cool for 10 minutes after you’ve brushed it with the syrup, then turn it out onto the cooling rack. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • To make the glaze: In a medium bowl, stir the confectioners’ sugar and grapefruit juice together until the glaze is smooth – it should be thick but with a pourable consistency.
  • Drizzle over the cake allowing the glaze to drip down the sides. Let the glaze set before serving. 

Happy Picnicking !!

Canadian Maple Walnut Cake

It’s time to celebrate Canada and there’s no better way to do it than to be by the lake, doing everything Canadian like canoeing and camping.  And enjoying in some of ‘our’ favourite cuisines; Canadian maple syrup, and butter tarts to name a few of my favourites!! 

There are some recipes that I like to keep to myself, and this is one of them!! It’s rich and flavourful and a little different than your typical cakes! But, in the spirit of being Canadian I will apologize to you for holding back, and am happy to share one of my favourite ‘Canadian Maple Syrup’ recipes with you now ;)

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Maple Walnut Cake

Recipe:

  • 1 cup Stirling unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp maple extract
  • 21/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp groung ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup Canadian maple syrup

Candied Walnuts;

Maple Butter cream Icing:

  • 1 cup Stirling Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup Canadian maple syrup
  • 1 tsp maple extract

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350˚F
  • Line two 9inch round metal can pans with parchment paper, and grease the sides
  • In a large bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time then maple extract
  • In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and soda, ginger and salt together
  • Add the flour mixture to your butter mixture; alternating the flour mixture with the buttermilk and maple syrup. Make 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of the buttermilk and syrup, just until blended
  • Scrape into the two pans
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, let cool on a rack

Candied Walnuts:

  • In a bowl melt butter, maple syrup together and 1 Tbsp of water
  • Whisk together and add walnuts to coat
  • Spread out on a baking sheet and toast walnuts at 325˚F for 10 minutes, turning walnuts to re-coat and toast for an additional 10 minutes. Let cool
  • Reserve approx. 12-15 walnuts to top the cake, finely chop the remaining walnuts

Maple butter cream icing:

  • In a bowl beat butter until fluffy, gradually add in sugar
  • On low speed add your cream, maple syrup, and extract
  • Adjust icing as needed, add more butter for a softer and lighter taste, icing sugar to thicken the icing, and cream to make icing more pliable for icing the cake

Putting the cake together:

  • Trim cake as necessary to make flat discs, leave in two layers for a two layered cake or cut layers in half for a four layered cake. Brush off crumbs
  • On a cake stand or cake board, add a little icing so your first layer will stick to the bottom. Add cake layer
  • Ice your first layer, then add a layer of candied walnuts
  • Add second layer, and repeat (continue adding layers if you are doing four layers) for the top layer, ice the entire cake as well as the sides
  • Add the candied walnut halves around the edges of the cake

This is a very rich cake so a little goes a long way! It will definitely feed a party of 16-18 of your closest friends.  And would pair perfectly with Kawartha Dairy Vanilla Ice Cream!

Happy Canada Day!!

Mini Strawberry Rhubarb Crumbles

With summer comes fresh and local produce, picked right from your back yard or bought from your local markets!  I love being able to use local ingredients from neighbours and/or venturing to the markets to stock up on fresh fruit and veggies.  Rhubarb is in season right now and it’s perfect to pair with strawberries or apples.  Last weekend I ventured out to Eastcliff Farm in West Grey to put on a Farm to Table event.  I couldn’t think of a better dessert to serve than tart and sweet Rhubarb Crumbles, all locally sourced from neighbouring farms and friends!

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Rhubarb pairs nicely with more than just strawberries.  I like it baked with apples and butter, brie cheese and honey, caramel sauce with ice cream, in custard, in pastries with raspberries, even topped on pork as a chutney.

For the event I did two kinds of rhubarb crumbles, your classic strawberry and rhubarb, and the other I mixed with macintosh apples!  The best part of these little guys is the buttery crumble on top.  I used brown sugar and Stirling butter (Churn 84 with higher butter fat), and it was the perfect combinations to pair with the tart rhubarb.

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Ingredients:

  • 500g Strawberries
  • 400g Rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

For the crumble:

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F
  • Place 12-15,  4oz ramekins on a cookie sheet with a lip (so they don’t slide off the pan)
  • Cut strawberries into halves, and slice rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces (you want to keep the fruit the same size so they bake evenly). Place in a large bowl
  • Add sugar and flour to fruit, stir well. 
  • Mean while make your crumble. Mix flour and brown sugar in a large bowl.
  • Cut butter into chucks and place in flour mixture.  Using a pastry cutter, cut butter into flour until butter resembles small pea size crumbs.  Using your hands rub the butter together to make sure the flour, sugar and butter are mixed, to form crumbs. 
  • Stir your fruit mixture again (the fruit should be getting juicy) 
  • Fill the ramekins full of fruit and its juices, top with lots of crumble
  • Bake for 30-40mins until fruit is soft and crumble has browned.  You can broil the top of the crumbles to crisp them up too.

Variation: Rhubarb Apple Crumble; Subsitute the strawberries for Macintosh apples. Add 1tsp of cinnamon to the crumble.

Happy Baking