Raspberry Crumb Bars

When M was little and I used to collect her from Preschool at lunchtimes, I could only ever find out how she’d spent her morning by a process of elimination.

Me: Did you have a good morning?

M: Yes.

Me: What did you do?

M: I didn’t do the cylinders (she went to a Montessori Preschool)

Me: So … what did you do?

M: I didn’t do any painting.

Me: And instead you did …?

M: I didn’t polish the mirror.

And in that way, I’d eventually discover that she had had a thoroughly enjoyable morning absorbed in weeding the garden, climbing the apple tree and pegging out woollen socks to dry on the clothes line.

L has a similar habit. As part of her recent science project for school, she decided to label a picture of a capybara to show “their adaptations to an aquatic lifestyle” (a phrase that featured often in the course of working on this project). After highlighting their webbed feet, highly-placed eyes, ears and nostrils, and water-resistant fur, she took great pleasure in adding a label to show ‘no tail’. I’m not convinced this lack has anything to do with an aquatic lifestyle, but she found the idea of labelling something that wasn’t there particularly amusing.

I think there are similarities here somewhere to Lacan’s theory that la femme n’existe pas, but it would be a bit of a conversation killer if I go any further along that line of thinking …

Anyway, if you ask M what she’ll be wearing to school next term, she’ll probably tell you, “Not a yellow jumper.” Which will be true. It’s the end of term and the end of key stage 1 for M. In September, she will be growed up enough to wear blue instead of yellow – only you’ll have to find that bit out by a process of elimination.

It being the end of term, I baked a couple of trays of raspberry crumb bars for my children to take into school for their teachers. There very nearly weren’t any of these left after L and I ‘sampled’ them last night. It was just to make sure we weren’t going to poison the staff – honest! Scientific measures of quality control.

At least, that’s the line we’re sticking to. We didn’t eat three slices each straight from the oven, we didn’t burn our tongues on hot, gooey jam and Captain Blackadder definitely did not shoot the delicious plump breasted pigeon, sir.

Raspberry Crumb Bars (adapted from a recipe by Joanne Chang)

12 oz unsalted butter
3 1/2 oz caster sugar
3 tbsp icing sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz plain flour
6 1/4 oz cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 jar of raspberry jam (with seeds)

Cream the butter with the sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla.

Whisk the dry ingredients together, then add gradually on low speed to the buttery sugary eggy mixture. Stir just until the flour is incorporated and evenly mixed.

Remove 8 oz of the dough, wrap it in clingfilm and put it in the freezer.

Press the remaining dough into a flattish disc shape, wrap it in clingfilm and chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Roll out the fridge dough to a 9″x13″ rectangle between two lightly-floured sheets of baking parchment. Leaving the dough on the lower sheet of parchment, transfer the dough to a 9″x13″ baking tray. Neaten the edges and trim any excess overhanging parchment.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden.

Let the shortbread base cool for 10 minutes and then spread the jam evenly over the top. Use a large-holed grater to grate the frozen piece of dough over the top of the jam.

Bake for a further 20 minutes until the top is bubbly and golden.

Leave to cool completely in the tray on a wire rack before removing and cutting into bars.

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  1. Grainne Redmknd

     /  July 11, 2012

    These look lovely but what can I use instead of cake flour please? Am a relative novice at baking and looked up Cinnamon Square but can’t pay £8 postage for a £6 bag of flour! Also cannot be bothered (my bad) attempting to microwave…. Can anything else be done – surely here must be another substitute? Thank you, Grainne

    • The closest you can possibly get without using heat-treated flour is probably to use a 00 grade flour. McDougalls do one that’s sold in supermarkets, but I’ve also found some nice soft wheat ones in local delis. The lower the protein content, the better. Failing that, try substituting some of the plain flour with cornflour for the cake flour part of the recipe. There’s probably also some sort of substitution of cake flour with part McDougall’s Supreme self-raising flour (also sold in supermarkets), reducing the baking powder (and salt) to compensate for that in the flour … but I haven’t done the maths on that one yet! Hope that helps 🙂

  2. Grainne Redmond

     /  July 11, 2012

    Thanks a million! Will probably go the 00 route – sounds simple enough even for me! Thanks for the speedy response.

  3. Rosalind

     /  July 11, 2012

    These look lovely – I wonder if they would work with gooseberries? I am drowning in the things!!!

    • Hello 🙂 I’m sure these would work with gooseberry jam, or any other jam for that matter. Or salted caramel … mmmmmmm, oh yay! Now there’s an idea ….

  4. Those really are absolutely gorgeous. I love the way you’ve constructed them, particularly the top layer.

    • It’s slightly off-putting that the crumb topping does look a bit like cheese on a pizza, but it makes for a talking point, anyway!

  5. those turned out great!

  6. Lucy

     /  July 12, 2012

    Wish you were a parent at our school so we could have your treats in our staff room! It does look like cheese – I read the whole blog thinking you were going to explain how jam and cheese is a winning combination but alas, no! Ask Jon about his Sayers Croft sandwiches when we visit…

  7. Sayers Croft, Sayers Croft *making a mental note*. Sounds intriguing …


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