blueberry and peach porrij crumble slice

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It’s hard to believe that I’m writing this post on the fifth day of January, 2014. Where did the holiday season go? After months of expectation, the festivities and countdown have finished; twinkling lights and streamers have been cleared and returned to cardboard confinement. The new year is barreling full-steam ahead.

Over the past few days, I’ve heard many friends discussing their personal ‘new years resolutions’, a concept that I’m familiar with but have never practiced. More exercise, less sugar, less alcohol, more productivity… all very worthy ideas.

I guess I’m of a similar mindset, despite lack of proclamation. Aaron and I went for our first run of the year on Thursday, around 4km of varying terrain including Jacob’s ladder and the insufferable Kokoda track. On Friday, we tackled a sizeable walk around Tomato Lake, watching families picnic and waterbirds building nests.

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From a nutritional point of view, I’ve also been focusing on fresh organic produce after the unavoidable excess of Christmas. Bowls of Brookfarm natural macadamia muesli with fresh blueberries and organic yoghurt, homemade hummus with spicy harissa and raw vegetables, grilled chicken with quinoa, homegrown herbs, pomegranate arils and plenty of lemon.

Simple, wholesome food, healthy fats, minimally processed. I feel better for it. Infinitely.

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peaches

One of the most beautiful things about Summer is the ready availability of fresh seasonal fruit such as blueberries, mangoes, peaches, sweet strawberries and nectarines. I’ve been lapping it up, eating fresh bowls of mango with plenty of mint, adding grilled peaches into salads and blueberries into jam and baking.

This Saturday morning, I decided to turn three punnets of blueberries into a healthy crumble slice, sandwiched with Vicky’s tiny homegrown peaches between layers of crunchy amaranth, oats, macadamias, flax and quinoa (courtesy of Brookfarm‘s organic Power Porrij).

The house smelled divine during the baking process; buttery crumble interspersed with sweet cinnamon, bubbling fruit and earthy grains.

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After allowing the slice to cool, I roughly cut it into squares before devouring a piece immediately. The soft, moist fruit was a perfectly sticky foil for the crunchy, organic wholegrain crumble. Delicious. Definitely moreish. Slightly ‘healthy-tasting’ in the best of ways.

This slice is perfect as a transportable energy snack for work, school or leisure. In fact, Aaron and I have packed a few pieces into an airtight container to take to a picnic this afternoon… and I am certain that I’ll be taking a piece to work tomorrow.

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Happy new year everyone. Thanks to all of you who regularly read Laura’s Mess, particularly those who take the time to comment and share ideas or thoughts with me. You’re a precious source of inspiration and friendship, despite the fact that we are yet to meet. May 2014 be the very best year yet.

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Blueberry and Peach Porrij Crumble Slice
Makes 24 pieces

  • 1 cup raw caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
  • 2 cups Brookfarm Power Porrij (find stockists here)
  • 220g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tbsp)

For the fruit filling:

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 cups pitted, diced fresh peaches (about 4 medium fruit)
  • 1/2 cup white caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup plain (all purpose) flour
  • juice of 1 lemon

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees f (190 degrees C). Grease and line a 9×13 inch shallow baking pan, then set aside.

Base: In a medium bowl, stir together the raw sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, flour and Porrij mix. Mix in the salt and lemon zest.

porrij

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Using your fingers, rub in the cubed butter until the mixture comes together into a crumbly dough. basedough

Press half of the dough into your prepared pan. Refrigerate the pan and the rest of the dough whilst you prepare your filling.

base

Filling: In another bowl, stir together the sugar, flour and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries and diced peaches.

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Remove the crust from the refrigerator and spoon over the fruit mixture, ensuring an even distribution of blueberries and peaches. Crumble the remaining dough over the fruit mixture (don’t worry if patches of fruit show through).

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Bake the slice in a preheated oven for 45-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the fruit mixture is bubbling at the sides (it should look slightly ‘jammy’ in consistency).

Cool completely before cutting into 24 squares (I’d recommend refrigerating it for an hour to prevent the crust from crumbling). Store in plastic wrap or in an airtight container for up to four days.

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This slice is also a worthy dessert à la mode, served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream… because everyone needs a little indulgence sometimes.

Disclaimer: Brookfarm is an Australian-owned, New South Wales based company that prides itself on the production of delicious, premium quality macadamia products and wholefoods. The company supplied me with samples of their Power Porrij for this recipe post, however I was not compensated and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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berry pavlova with lemon curd and wild thyme honey

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It’s a rainy Sunday evening; the third week of Western Australian Spring that’s been pervaded by dark clouds, high winds and cold nights. Not that I mind. It’s decidedly cosy in our small apartment; a frosted lamp casts a warm glow across the coffee table as I sit, sipping warm rooibos, on a nearby couch. My fingers tap against plastic keys, pausing momentarily to hear the steady beat of rain against the balcony window. Perfect conditions for evening reverie.

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As I type this sentence, I have exactly three minutes until the last year of my third decade begins: the big three-oh. Two days ago, I was filled with ardent opposition to this idea; mostly as I loathed the idea of leaving my fading youth behind. However, as the day fast approaches, I’ve actually gained some much needed perspective.

This year is to be celebrated, not commiserated. I’m blessed to be alive, to be fit and healthy, to be surrounded by those I love on a daily basis. Each year that passes brings a stronger sense of ‘self’; both individually and within my personal relationships. Plus, I get to eat cake whenever I want (and bake it, too).

eggshells

This particular cake was the product of a shopping trip to the beautiful Boatshed Markets in Cottesloe. If you’re a Perth foodie, I’m sure you’ve heard of this place already; aisle after aisle of fresh, local fruit and vegetables, gourmet olive oil, house made antipasti, biodynamic meats, aged cheeses and artisan breads.

I bring home a considerable bounty each time I visit, and Saturday was no different. By checkout time, I had squirreled purple congo potatoes, fresh broad beans, sourdough and cheeses into our basket with some watercress, cured meats and a $9 punnet of vibrant edible flowers.

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Edible flowers are a source of inspiration for me. As soon as I see them, I feel an urge to create something delicate; a fragrant, delicious creation to act as a ‘throne’ for their beauty.

On Saturday, the flower was the common Stork’s Bill, or Erodium cicutarium. One glance at the blushing pink petals, red stems and variegated leaves had me itching to create a delicate pavlova, sandwiched with cream, homemade lemon curd, berries and a fragrant drizzle of wild thyme honey.

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This pavlova is beautiful in every sense of the word. With one bite, you get crunchy meringue, earthy pistachios and a pop of fresh berry wrapped in soft, luscious lemon and crème fraîche.

The wild thyme honey is entirely optional, however the earthy sweet flavour, herbal notes and intoxicating fragrance is incomparable. If you can’t find J.Friend and Co, I’d suggest steeping some fresh thyme in another floral honey (heat it on the stove gently before adding some thyme stalks to soak). It’s the next best thing.

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Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Wild Thyme Honey

Serves 12

For the meringue:

  • 6 large free-range egg whites
  • 300g raw caster sugar
  • splash of white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • a pinch of sea salt

For the filling/decoration:

  • 300ml very cold, full-fat whipping cream
  • 100ml crème fraîche
  • 4-5 tbsp (about 60-70g) lemon curd
  • 150g punnet fresh blueberries, washed
  • 200g fresh strawberries, washed and diced
  • 100g pistachio nuts, toasted and coarsely crushed/chopped
  • wild thyme honey (I used J.Friend and Co Artisan Honey), to drizzle (substitute your favourite floral honey)
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme, washed, leaves picked
  • edible flowers or dried rose petals, for garnish (optional)

Place your egg whites into a clean, dry bowl. Whisk them at medium speed until they begin to form firm peaks. With the mixer still running, add the sugar in a steady stream alongside the salt and white wine vinegar. As the mixture starts to thicken, turn the beater up to high speed and whisk for another 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture is glossy and smooth.

meringue

Rub a bit of the mixture between your finger and thumb; if you can still feel grains of sugar, whisk the meringue for a bit longer until the graininess disappears.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees c (300 degrees f). Line two flat-bottomed baking trays with parchment (I use a small dab of meringue in each corner to stick the paper to the tray) and draw a 20cm-diameter circle in the centre of each piece of paper with non-toxic pen or pencil (if you’re unable to find one, draw your circle on the parchment before you line your trays. Stick the paper on upside down so that the circle is still visible but the pen or pencil marks are on the underside).

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With a spatula, drop half of your meringue mixture into the centre of each circle, smoothing the mixture out to the edges of each circle. Try and ensure that the meringue discs are even in height and density. Place the trays into your pre-heated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, swapping the trays half-way through. When cooked, the meringues should be dry to touch on the outside, and slightly hollow when tapped. Leave the meringues to cool in the oven (temperature off, door slightly ajar) for one hour.

Whilst the meringues are cooling, prepare your filling. Place the whipping cream into clean, medium bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Mix through the crème fraîche, then refrigerate until you’re ready to complete your meringue stack.

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To assemble:

Carefully peel your meringue discs off the parchment paper. Dab a couple of teaspoons of whipped cream onto a cake platter (to stop the bottom meringue dish from moving) and place one meringue disc on top. Smooth over half of the cream mixture, then dab on the lemon curd (use a knife to gently ensure that it’s evenly distributed). Scatter over half of the strawberries and blueberries.

construction

Place the next meringue disc on top. Cover with the remaining whipped cream (leave about 1-2 cm from the edge of the meringue) then scatter over the remaining berries. Top with the crushed pistachio nuts, then drizzle with a little wild thyme honey. Scatter over the edible flower petals and thyme leaves.

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Note: My mention of J.Friend and Co artisan honey has been unsolicited and unpaid, based entirely on my positive view of this particular company and their products. The views expressed are entirely my own.

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