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Rosie Sykes’ budget recipes with raspberries

Jul 12, 2023

When baked, this top-drawer summer berry takes on a lovely floral note that you’ll not be able to get enough of

Raspberries are a top-drawer summer fruit that are at their best (and cheapest) between June and October. Part of the rose family, they have a fragrant, bittersweet flavour and soft texture, with the crunch of the pips right at the end. (My very clever ice-cream-making friend Kitty Travers even makes a delicious, refreshing summer drink from the pips that she sieves out of her raspberry creations.) They can, of course, be eaten raw with cream, and work well in a multitude of puddings, but they’re also fantastic in baking, because, when cooked, they take on a lovely floral note. Frozen raspberries are good value and readily available all year round, and will work just as well in most recipes.

This is one of my most-baked recipes. It's versatile, too, so you can change the fruit to almost anything you fancy; use gluten-free flour, if need be, and a nut or vegetable oil or a plant-based spread to make it vegan. I like a slice with a cup of tea, or reheated and served warm with cream or custard for a quick pudding; they’re also handy for taking to the park.

Prep 5 minCook 50 minServes 8-10

180g butter 200g oats200g flour150g soft light brown sugar100g flaked almonds, or any other nut or seed of your choice and/or to suit your budget250g raspberries

Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5, and melt the butter in a 25cm x 30cm baking tin.

Mix the oats, flour and sugar in a bowl, make a well in the centre, then pour in the melted butter and mix until it all comes together. Line the baking tin with greaseproof paper, then press in two-thirds of the oat mixture – make sure you push it down well, so it holds together like pastry. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden.

In the meantime, mix the almonds into the remaining oat mixture. Once the base is cooked, strew the raspberries over the top, push them down a bit with a fork, then scatter over the remaining oat mixture and spread it out to cover – it's OK if the odd raspberry peeps out here and there.

Bake for another 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden and the raspberries soft. Remove, transfer the tin to a wire rack and leave to cool. Once it's completely cold, lift the cake out of the tin and cut into squares – it will keep in a sealed container for three to four days.

Poke cake, an American invention of the 1960s to promote jello sales, is a brilliant way to combine several flavours. A simple cake is "poked" with a spoon handle to create holes into which another flavour is poured and eventually infuses the cake. Coconut, raspberry and lime are an especially happy trinity. To make this vegan, replace the milk with a plant-based alternative.

Prep 10 minCook 1 hrServes 8

For the cake120g desiccated coconut, plus 1 tbsp extra for the icing200ml tinned coconut milk100ml whole milk (or a plant-based alternative)Juice of ½ lime300g self-raising flour250g caster sugar75ml oil

For the ‘poke’200g raspberries1 tbsp sugar

For the icingJuice and finely grated zest of ½ lime 15ml tinned coconut milk100g icing sugar

Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5, and line a 900g loaf tin or 20cm square or round tin with greaseproof paper. While the oven is heating up, put the extra tablespoon of desiccated coconut for the icing in a small oven dish and toast in the oven – keep a careful eye on it, though, because it will change colour quite quickly. Once golden, mix the toasted coconut with the grated lime zest and set aside.

Shake the coconut milk thoroughly in its tin, measure 200ml into a bowl and whisk in the whole milk and lime juice – it will thicken slightly.

Whisk the flour, 120g desiccated coconut and caster sugar in a large bowl to get rid of any lumps and to introduce some air. Mix the oil into the coconut milk mixture. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, then pour in the wet and fold in to combine – don't overmix. Pour the batter into the lined tin and bake for about 45 minutes, until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is cooking, make the raspberry poke: put the raspberries, sugar and a couple tablespoons of water in a small pan, cover and cook until the berries collapse and their consistency is like a runny jam. Take off the heat and leave to cool.

When the cake is baked, transfer the tin to a rack and, once it's cooled, prod it all over with the handle of a wooden spoon so it goes halfway through the cake. Pour the raspberry mix evenly over the cake, spreading it out so it goes into all the holes, then leave to sit until it's all been absorbed.

Meanwhile, make the icing: put 15ml coconut milk and the juice of half a lime in a bowl, whisk until the mixture thickens a little, then stir in the icing sugar bit by bit, until the icing takes on a thick, drizzling consistency. Lift the cooled cake out of its tin, zigzag the icing over the top, so the raspberries are still visible, and finish with a scattering of lime zest and the toasted coconut.

Rosie Sykes is a chef and food writer. Her next book, Every Last Bite: 70 Recipes to Save Time, Money and Resources, will be published by Quadrille next year.

5 min 50 min 8-10 180g butter 200g oats200g flour150g soft light brown sugar100g flaked almonds 250g raspberries 10 min 1 hr 8 120g desiccated coconut 200ml tinned coconut milk100ml whole milk Juice of ½ lime300g self-raising flour250g caster sugar75ml oil 200g raspberries1 tbsp sugar Juice and finely grated zest of ½ lime 15ml tinned coconut milk100g icing sugar