In the Kitchen
In our catering kitchen, we enjoy coming up with innovative ideas for old-style baking. We know our customers love Nana's cookies, cakes and slices, and while they like them to be still recognisable as the original, they adore luxurious flavour and texture. It makes it all worth the calories then.
Here today is our take on tan slice with luxury but also Christmas in mind. It is a slice perfect for the household which has forsaken Christmas mince pies. It has a spicy shortcake base, with a layer of zesty fruit mince, followed by caramel topping and then – as all tan slices have – the crumble of the shortcake mixture baked on top. And because it's Christmas, it's finished with a drizzle of melted dark chocolate.
Before our yuletide slice, we created a ginger version of tan slice. I'm hard pressed to choose a favourite between the two.
Ginger and Walnut Tan Slice features in my new book, Pretty Cooks at Home, which we're giving away today along with my handmade traditional Christmas cake.
I've already had reports from households that plain old tan slice will not cut the mustard now that they have become converts to the gingery version.
CHRISTMAS TAN SLICE
Makes 24 8cm x 3cm pieces base, fruity centre and caramel topping make this tan slice like no other. It sings Christmas. It's important to measure the tray you use and, if it is bigger or smaller than the specified tray, scale up or down accordingly.
220g butter, chopped and softened
175g ( 3/4 cup + 2 1/2 Tbsp) sugar
305g (2 cups + 3 Tbsp) flour
60g ( 1/2 cup) ground almonds
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Tropical Fruit Mince
60g dark (70 per cent) chocolate tablet, chopped and melted
Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease the base and sides of a 21cm × 30cm low-sided baking tray with baking spray or additional butter.
Place butter and sugar into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until pale and fluffy.
Sift flour, ground almonds and baking powder into mixture and mix until well combined and mixture holds together. Weigh mixture and set aside 150g, which will go on top of slice.
Sift ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice, cloves and nutmeg into remaining mixture and mix until well combined. Place into prepared tray and press firmly and evenly into tin. Use a metal scraper or knife to run along the top to even out surface.
Place into preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes or until slice base is colour of cinnamon.
Remove from oven and immediately spread Tropical Fruit Mince evenly over slice base.
Pour Caramel Topping over mince and spread evenly.
Take the reserved base mixture and squeeze it in the palm of your hand to bind. Break off chunks and scatter over top.
Place into preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until Caramel Topping is dark-golden brown and set.
Remove from oven to a cake cooling rack and cool completely.
Remove from baking tray and place on a firm board. Trim edges to neaten. Using a fork, drizzle melted chocolate over slice in a zigzag fashion. Leave at room temperature for an hour or until chocolate has set.
Cut into 24 pieces 8cm × 3cm. To maximise yield, divide longest side by 8cm and shortest side by 3cm.
Store in an airtight container with waxed paper in between each layer for up to a week, or freeze for up to three months.
TROPICAL FRUIT MINCE
100g raisins, roughly chopped
100g dried apricots, roughly chopped
100g dried pears, roughly chopped
50g ( 1/4 cup) brown sugar
150g (1) apple, peeled and coarsely grated
185g (1) banana, peeled and well mashed
3 tsp finely grated lemon zest
15ml (1 Tbsp) brandy
Place raisins, apricots, pears, currants and brown sugar into a large bowl, and stir well to combine.
Add apple, banana, lemon zest and brandy and mix well.
Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to one month.
130g unsalted butter, chopped
45g (3 1/2 Tbsp) golden syrup
395g (1 tin) sweetened condensed milk
Place butter, golden syrup and condensed milk into a medium-sized pot set over a low heat.
Stir continuously until butter has melted and merged into condensed milk, and mixture is smooth.
Cool and use, or cool and refrigerate for up to one week.
- Sunday Star Times