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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Monday, February 27, 2006

Raspberry and coconut slice

I had a function for which I had to "bring a plate" (have you also ever wanted to turn up with an empty plate..?), and I've been in an old-fashioned slice making mood. Slices are the best things to bring along to events like this, because you can cut them into easily manageable bite-sized portions. The small squares are also an excuse to make something as gooey and rich as you dare. At least, that's my excuse. ;-)
I had frozen raspberries, and I found this recipe in "
Sweet Food", the book with the oh-so-pretty photos, but absolutely shameful index and totally random order of recipes. Whoever edited this book should be embarrassed. As a librarian I appreciate a good index. They're getting rarer nowdays. (Incidentally, in very dorky librarian style, I've created my own index for this book. Let me know if you want a copy....)

The flavours in this recipe work really well; the tart raspberries are a great flavour bomb. However, this slice was waaaaay sweet. I had already cut down the amount of sugar in the recipe from 2 cups to 1.5, but it could have easily gone down to 1 cup. It was far too sweet for me, but there were others who loved it. So.....who knows? I also cut down the amount of butter, because an entire block for biscuit base? I don't think so! I think I used about half, and it was just fine. I do like this baking book, but I have noticed they tend towards excessive amounts of flour, butter and sugar in their recipes and I think you have to approach them with a critical eye. If you know a little about baking you know what reductions and substitutions you can get away with. I think I'm finally reaching that stage.
Unfortunately, after I'd chilled it and started slicing it, I noticed that it wasn't fully cooked in the middle. I had some very sloppy pieces that I couldn't use, and many of the pieces I did use could have used a little extra time in the oven. Keep that in mind if you try making it.
So, all up, it was a popular slice, and it was all eaten at the afternoon tea, but for me, it could be improved. The sharp raspberry flavour could really be brought out, rather than hiding under all that sugar.
Read on for the recipe:

Raspberry and coconut slice

280g (2 1/4 cups) plain flour
3 tablespoons ground almonds
500g (2 cups) caster sugar*
250g butter, chilled**
1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon lemon juice
300g (2 1/2 cups) fresh or frozen raspberries
90g (1 cup) dessicated coconut
icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 20x30cm shallow tin and line with baking paper.

Sift 220g (1 3/4 cups) flour into a bowl. Add the ground almonds and 125g (1/2 cup) of the caster sugar and stir to combine. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Press the mixture into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Reduce the oven to 150 C (300F).

Sift the nutmeg, baking powder and the remaining flour into a bowl. Beat the eggs, vanilla and remaining sugar with electric beaters for 4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Fold in the flour with a large spoon. Stir in the lemon juice, raspberries and coconut and pour over the base.

Bake for ~1 hour, or until golden and firm. Chill in the tin, then cut into pieces. Dust with icing sugar.
Makes 30 pieces.

* I would recommend reducing this to a total of 250g/1 cup.
**This amount can be reduced by about half.


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