Thursday, 8 January 2015

Cranberry-Date Crumble Squares...

...with an unusual added ingredient!

The AlphaBakes challenge (rules here) is hosted jointly by Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline from Caroline Makes. This month the challenge is hosted by Ros, and the random letter generator has thrown up the letter L. That means baking something whose name begins with L, such as Linzertorte, or something containing a significant ingredient beginning with L.

In a bid to find something really different from the most obvious ingredients, such as lemon or lime, I came up with Lentils. At first I was going to make something savoury, but then I found this really awesome Canadian site which throws lentils into cookies, desserts, brownies and cakes with wild abandon. I was really spoilt for choice, but in the end chose these crumble topped squares filled with dates and cranberries.

I followed the recipe as written, but I rubbed the chilled butter into the flour and oat mixture rather than mixing it in with a fork (how would that work?). I used a 50:50 mixture of spelt and wholemeal flour, as I didn't have enough spelt flour on it's own. When it came to making the filling, the instructions weren't really clear, so I chopped the dates into pieces the size of the cranberries. I used a mixture of fresh juice (from one small orange) and water, and added the zest of the orange too.

These squares were outstandingly tasty! I think this was mainly due to the thick filling of dates and cranberries, which cooked together to make something really different from either on their own! It's a combination of fresh and dried fruit that I've never seen before, and wouldn't ever have thought of on my own, but I'm really glad I tried it. The base was quite soft, although the topping was crisp and crunchy, and you would never guess that lentils were involved in any way. Despite the amount of sugar used, in both the crumb and the filling, the squares did not seem over-sweet.

Adding lentils has all sorts of health benefits - lentils have a low GI value, contain protein and fibre and are rich in several minerals such as potassium and iron. When cooked they add moisture to baked goods in the same way as fruit or vegetable purées, which means you can often cut down on the butter in the recipe, as in this one. A comparable oat square recipe would perhaps use double the amount of butter.

In addition to the health benefits of lentils, there are other ingredients in these squares which have health benefits - oats contain fibre and may help reduce cholesterol; wholemeal flour has more fibre than white; dates contain fibre and minerals and have natural sweetness; cranberries are packed with antioxidants and sometimes called a superfood. The squares are high in sugar, which can be worrying, but most people are happy to eat some sugar as an occasional treat. The other lower GI ingredients here balance the effects of sugar and would help keep blood sugar levels steady.


I think these health benefits probably also qualify these cranberry-date crumble squares for this month's Tea Time Treats challenge, which is to make something healthy (or thrifty) for a lunchbox. I'd certainly appreciate the energy and nutrients packed into a piece of this, when balanced with a low carb salad, or something similar. Tea Time Treats (rules here) is hosted alternately by Karen from Lavender and Lovage, and Jane from The Hedge Combers, who is this month's host.

8 comments:

Alicia Foodycat said...

Lentils. I never would have thought! Somehow that seems an even bigger step than chickpeas.

Charlene F said...

Wow, who would have thought of lentils in a sweet dish , our crumbles squares look lush (and it must have been relatively healthy) :-) x

Snowy said...

What an unusual way to use lentils, but the squares look good. Great to have some tasty that's also healthy!

Anne Szadorska said...

Lentils has me very intrigued, would of never thought of using them in this way! However the squares look delicious - I have some lovely dates in at the moment think they would be great for your recipe!!

Baking Addict said...

I was trying to guess the L ingredient from the title and would never have guessed lentils! What a brilliant idea and I can imagine that it would work well. Thanks for entering AlphaBakes.

Jane Sarchet said...

Lentils huh? Interesting :) As I was reading through I could have sworn you said you rubbed chilli butter into the flour! To be fair it is very early & I'm only on my first cuppa :)
Thanks so much for taking the time to share with our packed lunch themed Tea Time Treats, these would be perfect (chilli butter n all!)
Janie x

Suelle said...

No chillies, although it might be an interesting addition! ;)

Janice Pattie said...

Wow, I've never seen lentils in baking before, what an interesting idea. The bars certainly look lovely and moist and I love cranberries and dates, definitely one to bookmark.