|Ready for tea|
Growing up, I spent many hours and days being looked after by my Grandparents. In fact, for the first 2 or 3 years of my life we – Mum, Dad, my Sister Lynda and me - lived with them until we bought a house and moved just a few doors away. After school, I would walk home and Nan would always have a meal ready. She was a good, somewhat plain cook, but generally seemed to use the freshest of ingredients. One of my favourite suppers occurred most Saturdays when all 6 of us would enjoy a shellfish tea. Winkles, cockles, and shrimps would be piled high in bowls in the centre of the dining table and we would devour the lot accompanied by a large Hovis loaf, which was sliced at the table and slathered in unsalted butter. Steaming cups of tea would follow together with some form of cake.
Nan wasn’t a great cake baker – her Victoria sponges always originated from a packet of Green’s sponge mixture - but she was a mean shortcrust pastry maker and her suet puddings were to die for! She often, as I remember, made a rather nice Coconut Slice – I can see her now rolling out the pastry on the kitchen table - and I was reminded of this the other day when I found a similar, old-fashioned, recipe.
Today, my updated ‘Slice’ can be made in several ways, by changing flavours and textures to suit what I have in the cupboard. So why not experiment, make it yours, and then it might be included in your own edible and treasured family memory?
Here’s how I made it…..
Preheat oven to 180C (170C fan)/Gas 4. Lightly grease and line an 8 x 12 inch (20 x 30 cm) shallow tin.
Ingredients for the base: 125g unsalted butter, 80g caster sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 egg yolks, 250g plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon milk, 160g jam (your choice of flavour - I used my own plum and cinnamon).
Ingredients for the topping: 40g chopped walnuts (or other nuts you prefer), 80g chopped glace cherries (or other dried fruit such as chopped prunes, chopped apricots, raisins, etc.), 30g choc. chips, 2 egg whites, 115g caster sugar, 45g desicated coconut, 30g puffed rice cereal (I used coco pops).
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift flour and baking powder together and then fold into the creamed mixture, followed by the milk. Then press into the prepared tin evenly and smoothly (take a little time over this). Finally, spread the jam over the surface and sprinkle over the chopped fruit, nuts and choc chips.
Beat the egg whites until stiff peak stage and then, whilst continuing to whisk, slowly add the caster sugar. Lastly, fold in the coconut and puffed rice. Carefully spread the mix over the slice - I used a metal spatula.
Bake for 30-35 mins until firm and golden. Cool the slice in the tin and then cut into fingers. Enjoy!