After four failed hot cross bun attempts (four!) last weekend, I was feeling rather demoralised about baking (And truth be told, life in general – what kind of person are you when you can’t even raise a colony of yeast in a warm, sugary, spice infused solution?).
Upon the fourth batch emerging smoking and blackened from the oven, my own mother uttered the immortal lines:
What do we do when we want hot cruss buns in future? We go to Tescos, don’t we Rachel.
I spent a week avoiding the kitchen and surviving on nachos and chunky chicken skewers courtesy of the local poorly lit cocktail bar. Shared with other people, of course. I wasn’t that desperate.
I was ready to toss in the tart tin and focus on the craft side of this blog (I had made a pretty impressive origami turtle during a slow afternoon at work) until I stumbled across a recipe in this month’s Olive magazine for a Mixed Berry Plaited Pie. Aside from the unseasonably dull name, this construction (which I have rejigged slightly and renamed) saved me from baking exile.
It combines pastry, sponge, raspberries, blackberries, other berries and more pastry. What more could you want? Ice cream, probably.
Without further ado, I present to you the recipe…
for the base
100g unsalted butter
2tbsp golden caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
200g plain flour
for the ‘lid’
220g plain flour
ice cold water
for the filling
150g golden caster sugar
50g ground almonds
150g self raising flour
250g mixed berries – I used frozen.
for the lid
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small chunks and, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it looks like fine bread crumbs. Alternatively, use a food processor, blitz the lot and save yourself approximately seven years and certain carpal tunnel.
Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time and use a table knife to cut through the mixture and combine it all together. I used around four tablespoons of water. Once you can press it together in a ball and it leaves the bowl clean, pop it in a sandwich bag and put it in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour.
for the base
Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 4.
Line a brownie/roasting tin (approx 20 x 30cm) with greaseproof paper or tin foil.
As above, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small chunks and, using your fingertips, rub it into the flour until it looks like fine bread crumbs. Food processor option as mentioned. Then mix in the sugar.
Beat the egg and then stir it in until the mixture looks like chunkier breadcrumbs. Tip the whole lot into the brownie/roasting in so it’s evenly spread and then press down with the back of a spoon. Make sure it is all fairly level and reaches the corners and the edges. Pop this in the frigde to chill whilst you make the filling.
for the filling
Cream the butter and sugar together, then add in the beaten eggs, the flour and the ground almonds. Mix it all together until it’s smooth.
Grab the base from the fridge and spread your filling across the top of it using a spatula. Once it’s all evenly on there, scatter on your mixed berries.
back to the lid
After ensuring that your lid mixture has been in the fridge for at least half an hour, take it out and place it on a well floured surface. Flour your rolling pin and set to work rolling it out so it is about 2-3mm thick.
Using a sharp knife and dragging it down the pastry, cut it into long ribbons, about 1cm wide. Gently drape these diagonally across the surface of the berries, first one way and then the other, making a criss cross pattern. Trim any excess from the sides.
Sprinkle 2 extra tablespoons of sugar on top.
Place in the oven for around 40mins until it is light golden.
On taking it out of the oven, allow it to cool slightly on a wire cooling rack.
Serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla icecream or clotted cream.