Blueberry Crunch Slice

My little girl started back at school this week and I’m full of mixed emotions about this. On the one hand I appreciate having time to myself to ‘get things done’ but I also miss having my cute little jumping bean at my side! She is joyful to be back in the classroom however, so I’ve seized the opportunity to complete the tasks I started before the summer. This past week has seen us having a major declutter of our bedroom, removing most of the furniture (and its contents) in favour of clear space and minimalism. Having spent most of my life as a bit of a clutterfly, I have slowly gravitated towards the less is more approach – and it is truly liberating. (Although I draw the line at getting rid of my frankly precious Blondie memorabilia!) A recent thing I have learned to do – not exclusively linked to minimalism, although it does tend to go hand in hand – is to fold clothes using the Marie Kondo folding method. I showed my husband how to do it and he took to the idea with unexpected earnestness; thirty minutes later he had folded and neatly stored every item he owned whilst sporting a frenzied look in his eye and muttering something about wizardry and four decades of incorrect folding. I’m still not sure if he was winding me up; I’m just happy with the drawer situation.

Between lugging furniture out of the flat and deliberating whether to toss something on to the keep, throw or donate pile, I have managed to bake this lovely cake. I’ve made it many times (the pictures show Honey helping me make this back in July!) but it’s become a bit special as this particular cake made me realise what my vegan sponges have been missing: a generous dash golden syrup. It doesn’t alter the flavour, but it does contribute a little extra softness, moisture and a sun-kissed hue. A lot of vegan sponges stay quite pale (something to do with the lack of eggs is my best guess) which I can overlook – but it is nice to see that warm glowy shade again!  Baked in my standard 9″x9″ brownie tin, this is a fuss-free treat – a golden soft sponge studded with berries and finished with my current favourite low-key cakey topping – a sprinkling of crunchy demerara sugar.

Like most vegan bakes, the method is the standard wet to dry mix and you can do it with your eyes shut. I’ve used blueberries here but raspberries, blackberries or a ‘summer fruit’-type combination of anything edible you might have picked would be fine! For the topping I usually make some custard, but coconut cream or plain soya yogurt is also great. It also tastes delicious with nothing at all.

You will need a 9″x9″ square cake tin (I use my trusty brownie tin)
275g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
100g caster sugar
300ml non-dairy milk (any)
100ml sunflower oil
65g golden syrup (approx 3 tbsp)
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice (from a squeezy bottle is fine)
200g blueberries (or other berries)  rinsed and patted dry
For sprinkling: 2-3 tbsp demerara sugar


Preheat the oven to 180c/350f 40-45 mins. When it’s nice and hot you can start making the cake (it takes all of five minutes!)

  • Stir together the dry ingredients – the flour, baking powder and caster sugar. Set aside.
  • Measure the liquid ingredients – the milk, oil, golden syrup, vanilla and lemon juice – into a jug and lightly whisk together.
  • Pour the wet mix on to the dry and stir it all together. Do this quickly before the raising agents have a chance to wear off. It doesn’t have to be a completely smooth batter; just mix until you can’t see any dry bits. Think muffin mix. Add most of the berries – reserve a good handful – and lightly stir into the batter.

 

  • Pour the fruity batter into your prepared tin. Scatter the remaining berries, sprinkle the demerara sugar and get it into the oven quickly. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden and, well, spongy. A skewer should come out clean. Unless you’ve stabbed a blueberry, in which case try again.
  • Place the tin on a wire rack to cool for a bit before gently lifting the cake out. When it is completely cold, you can store it in a tin for a few days – although it never lasts more than 24 hours in our house!
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