What is the most comforting pudding you can imagine? Mine always has to involve some sort of crumble. I enjoy other desserts but when I look for comfort, crumble is right up there at the top of my list. And the correct ratio of crumble to fruit is probably 2:1, maybe even 3:1 in favour of the crumbly topping!
When we were in New Zealand over easter, we went sea kayaking for the morning at Cable Bay near Nelson. It was hard work kayaking on the open water and we came back exhausted. Our guide recommended that we make a stop at Pelorus Bridge as there’s a cafe there with, what he termed as, the best pies in new Zealand. We dutifully visited there for lunch and he was right - they were absolutely delicious pies. But what New Zealand is really good at, unlike most of the cafes I encounter in the UK, is cabinets of home-baked desserts, cakes and biscuits. I nostalgically remember our cake shops being like this in my childhood but these have been replaced these days with artisan bread shops and patisseries. Don’t get me wrong, I love these kinds of bakeries but sometimes I do miss seeing those cabinets full of the artificial cream cakes, custard doughnuts and homemade pies that bring with them a lot of happy memories!
So back at Pelorus Bridge, maybe it was the hunger from kayaking, but we ate a HUGE amount, giggling about our insatiable appetites, and practically cleared out their cabinets. And I had a jam crumble slice. It just hit the spot and I decided that when I came home, I would make them for us. This week I had some rhubarb to use up so I decided that we needed rhubarb crumble slices.
These slices are like a heavenly pudding all wrapped up in a bar and I love the rhubarb in place of the jam. Just like my favourite crumbles, there is a high ratio of crumble which is perfectly delicious! I didn't want huge chunks of rhubarb in the slices so I sliced them very thinly with a mandolin (setting 2). I love the pretty colour of rhubarb too! The two types of coconut in the slice add both texture and taste. The dessicated coconut in the cookie base gives it real flavour; the coconut chips in the crumble topping give it a lovely crunch whilst the rhubarb gives it a slightly sticky and chewy texture. These slices are the best warm from the oven but are delicious at room temperature too.
Maybe it's an age thing, but as I get older and now have my own children, I am often reminded of childhood memories by baking smells and tastes. I love it when food can time travel me back to happy days with family who are now with us only in spirit. New Zealand is always a special place for us and as my boys grow up (way too fast for my liking!) these new memories are so important to us too. I want them to hold onto to their childhood memories as they grow up and I guess that's one of the reasons I love baking so much!
rhubarb & coconut crumble slices
makes 8 large slices
- 220g butter
- 215g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 330g self-raising flour
- 40g desiccated coconut
- 40g flaked coconut (crumbled by hand)
- 160g rhubarb, sliced very thinly preferably with a mandolin
- (optional) 20g sugar to sweeten the rhubarb
you will also need a rectangular tin, around 26cm x 18cm
- preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan)
- grease and line the baking tin with baking paper
- slice the rhubarb with a mandolin (number 2 setting)
- cream the butter and sugar for 3-5 mins until light and fluffy
- stir in the flour and desiccated coconut until you have a dough
- remove 2/3 of the dough (around 500g) and press it into the base of your lined tin, smoothing it with the back of a spoon
- bake this in the oven for around 10-12 mins until it starts to turn a light golden brown
- whilst the base is in the oven, add the coconut flakes to the remaining dough, mix it thoroughly and put it in the fridge
- when the base is ready remove it from the oven
- if you want to sweeten your rhubarb, toss it in the optional 20g sugar
- then line your biscuit base with the rhubarb and top it with the refrigerated crumble topping until it’s evenly covered
- bake it for around 30 minutes until it’s golden brown
- if you want to remove it from the tin to serve it, allow it to cool for around 10 mins and then very gently ease it from its tin onto a plate, carefully so it doesn’t fall apart
- cut it into slices
- enjoy it warm from the oven or at room temperature :)