Thursday, April 30, 2015

throwing in the sponge

As I think I've said before, I'm not big on baking, since it requires a degree of discipline and adherence to exactitude and recipe-following that I find constricting. However, I'm always open to trying new things, especially if those things involve minimal effort for maximum results. One of the reasons I like the various versions of the clafoutis recipe so much is that it basically involves just chucking everything in a blender.

As it happens, the situation I found myself in yesterday was similar to the one that prompted my first stab at clafoutis-making, i.e. a desire to do something with the remnants of a batch of fruity alcoholic liquor. In this case it was some hooch that I'd put together just after Christmas to use up a large pack of fresh cranberries that we didn't use over the festive period, and various dregs of various clear spirits (principally vodka and rum) that we had lying around in the drinks cupboard.

As always the method with making this sort of stuff is: be fairly conscientious about regular shaking of the jar for the first few weeks, and then put it in a cupboard and forget about it for three or four months. So having done that and ended up with some pleasingly ruby-red liquid as a result, I was left with some alcohol-infused cranberries to use up.

What I did first is stew them up with a good splash of orange juice and a dollop of raspberry jam, until they'd softened up a bit and it didn't smell like you could strike a match over them and take your eyebrows off. So the question then was: what to do with them? A crumble? Another clafoutis?

It was then that this recipe caught my eye in what I think is a sort of "simple grub for kids" book Hazel occasionally uses. Sounds good, and seems pretty simple, but there is still a bit of multi-stage creaming, sieving and folding-in action going on. To that I say: fuck that shit, I'm just going to stick everything in a food processor and let it take its chances.

In case you can't see that image properly, here's the ingredients list:
  • 75g butter
  • 75g sugar
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
That will give you a fairly thick batter the consistency of, say, floor tile adhesive (though, hopefully, tastier). What you do then is put the fruit mixture in an oven-proof dish, spread the sponge batter over the top and put it in the oven for 30-40 minutes. These quantities will yield a thick-ish sponge topping for 2 (so you might need a bit of extra cooking time) or a slightly thinner one for 3-4, assuming you're using a wider dish to accommodate more fruity stuff.

The point here, just in case you weren't keeping up, is that this is a good general-purpose thing you can do with any fruity gubbins you've got lying around, and it's a nice alternative to crumble and clafoutis.

Dish up, bit of ice cream (or accompaniment of your choice), bish bosh, couldn't be simpler. While you're cooking you'll be needing a drink, so what I recommend is a combination of recently-decanted cranberry vodrum and some Asda Bitter Cranberry drink. Cheers!

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