I am not sure where this recipe comes from originally but I have a couple of friends who make this on a regular basis and it’s delicious. The middle layer uses homemade or store-bought cranberry sauce but you could also subsititute your favourite jams. It’s perfect for this time of year as there are fresh cranberries in the shops for Christmas.
It is essentially a crumble cake bar and I thought it would make a good snack for after “The Grim” this weekend, an 8 mile run over the army vehicle testing ground in Aldershot with a lot of very deep, very muddy puddles. This is the second time I have done it: last year I ran it with my friend Frin who is currently sailing around the Mediterranean. This year I ran it with our mutual friend Karyn. Somehow there were only 2/100ths of a second between last year’s and this year’s times!
Cranberry sauce is very quick and easy to make. I have made it in the past with red wine but I find the taste far too strong so prefer to stick to orange juice. Even with the added juice and sugar it is still very tart: use it for your Christmas meals and in desserts as well.
Recipe – Cranberry Sauce
100ml orange juice
100g soft brown sugar
250g fresh or frozen cranberries
Heat the orange juice and sugar in a saucepan so that the sugar dissolves and it comes to the boil.
Add the cranberries and continue to simmer until the cranberries start to lose their shape and sauce starts to thicken. This should take up to 10 minutes.
When it is ready it can be kept in a sterilised jar and should keep in the fridge for at least a week.
Recipe – Bars
200g plain flour
200g porridge oats
175g soft brown sugar
Zest of an orange
100g chopped walnuts
350g jar of cranberry sauce or one recipe quantity as per recipe above
Set the oven to 180ºC and line a 9″ square tin with baking parchment.
Put the flour and oats into a large bowl. Chop the butter into cubes and add to the flour and oats.
Rub the butter in with your fingers or cut it in with a knife until it is well distributed and a coarse crumb consistency.
Mix in the sugar, orange zest and chopped walnuts.
Tip half of the mixture into the tin and press down firmly and evenly with the back of a spoon.
Cover this with the cranberry sauce, taking care not to pull up the base:
Finally sprinkle over the remaining oat mixture and level it without pressing it down.
Bake for around 30-40 minutes until nicely browned on top.
Leave in the tin to cool for about half an hour and then remove and leave to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before cutting into squares or slices. You could of course eat this warm as a dessert.
They tasted even more delicious after The Grim, even with added mud. We were very lucky with the weather because it was about 9ºC (about 48ºF) but on occasions the army has to break the ice on the puddles beforehand. Some of them are thigh-deep (or deeper, depending on how tall you are!) and seem to last forever. You really don’t realise how numb your feet have gone until you get out the other side… It was so muddy I slipped and crash landed right in front of the event photographer. He got a very unflattering picture of me mid fall:
That’s Karyn in the pink – you’ll find her looking far more sophisticated (and clean) on Frin’s blog. I haven’t booked my flight to see Frin yet but after this weekend I am even more determined to organise that!