Fruitful bakes

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By Jan Bilton

When the weather is cold and blustery head into the kitchen and whip up some bakes. Adding some fresh fruit will enhance their appeal. However, baking is an exact science. Here are some tips.

• Use level metric measures.

• Spoon flour lightly into a measuring cup and gently level the top with a spoon. Do not pack it in. The only ingredient normally packed firmly is brown sugar.

• To measure dry ingredients by the spoon, fill the spoon then level the top with the straight edge of a knife.

• Lightly grease or oil cake pans. This helps the baking paper cling to the pan.

PEAR SQUARE

Grate the rind from the lemon first and reserve for the topping.

Pear Square

25g butter, chopped

4 medium pears, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 tablespoon cornflour

juice 1 lemon

125g sweet short pastry

Crumble Topping: 3/4 cup plain flour

100g chilled butter, chopped

1/4 cups caster sugar

2-3 tablespoons water

1/2 cup rolled oats

finely grated (reserved) rind 1 lemon

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the pears and caster sugar. Stir then cook gently until the pears are soft. Make a paste with the cornflour and lemon juice and stir in. Simmer until thickened. Cool.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 30cm x 20cm slice pan with baking paper.

Roll out the pastry to fit the pan. Press into the pan and refrigerate until required.

Prepare the topping by combining the flour and butter and sugar in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add enough water to form a crumbly dough. Add the rolled oats and lemon rind.

Spread the pear mixture evenly over the pastry base. Sprinkle with the topping. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the pastry is cooked and top is golden. Cut into squares to serve. Serve warm with yoghurt or ice cream. Makes 24 squares.

  • Jan Bilton is a Cambridge-based, professional food writer. For more of her recipes visit her website here.

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