Gooseberry, But Not the Fool

Friday, 2 August 2013

Over the summer my husband is assisting on a feature film and as I type this, a film crew is in my back garden filming a scene in which a girl is offered drugs at a family BBQ.  I don’t know what it is about my back garden that says drug den but I’m trying not to focus on that.  Instead I’m focusing on these gooseberry bars.  For the uninitiated gooseberries are a summer fruit native to Europe.  They are quite tart in flavour and most often eaten in crumbles or in the gooseberry fool which is a well known English dessert although having said that I’ve never actually eaten one.  Apparently they have been popular in England as far back as the reign of Elizabeth 1st. 

When a friend gave us a big bowl full of gooseberries from his garden my first instinct was hooray, free food and secondly to make a crumble but my husband pulls a face every time I mention crumble.  He is not a fan.  However he has no problem at all with crumble bars.  I know what you are thinking.  Surely the leap from crumble to crumble bar can’t be that big but apparently it is.  So when I saw a delicious looking recipe for raspberry breakfast bars from Jeanette at Everybody Likes Sandwiches I thought it looked like the perfect vehicle for my gooseberries.  It worked really well.  I had to substitute gluten free brown rice flour for the spelt flour which did lend a fairly crumbly texture but if you keep them in the fridge they hold together reasonably well.  They are delicious without being overly sweet and the tartness of the gooseberries is counteracted once they are cooked.  I should have done a layer of jam as was recommended in the recipe but sadly I was out of jam that day.  Maybe I should have made some gooseberry jam too!

Recipe adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches.
1 cup/115g/4 ½ oz brown rice flour
1 cup/100g/4oz gluten free oats
½ cup/50g/2oz ground almonds
½ cup/25g/1oz toasted coconut flakes
1/3 cup/60g/2 ½ oz brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
 ½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 large egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups/300g/10oz gooseberries washed, stems removed.  I kept most of mine whole but you can cut them in half if you prefer.
1 tablespoon demerara sugar for sprinkling.

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F.  Line an 8x8 pan or I used an 11 x 6 pan with parchment letting the edges hang over to form a sling.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, oats, ground almonds, toasted coconut, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Next add the coconut oil, egg and vanilla extract and combine until a crumbly dough forms.  Reserve ¾ cup of dough to one side and press the rest in to the bottom of your pan.  Scatter the gooseberries across the dough then top with the rest of the reserved dough in rough clumps.  Finally sprinkle with demerara sugar.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.  Let the pan cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes then remove the bars from the pan using your parchment sling.  Allow to cool completely before cutting in to squares.  Store the bars in the refrigerator.


  1. I don't think I've ever even eaten a gooseberry! I guess that's what happens when you live halfway around the world from England. :) These bars sound delicious--I love the almond-coconut combo with fresh fruit.

    1. Well I live in England and I've hardly ever eaten them myself! Yes almond and coconut is definitely a winning combination. :)

  2. Yum, that looks so delicious. Gooseberries are expensive here, but I do love them :) Lucky to have such a giving neighbour!

    1. Thanks for the recipe :) Gooseberries really did work a treat. They aren't something I eat very often but when I do I'm reminded of how great they are when cooked in something sweet.

  3. Love the almond coconut combination when I bake- makes my whole kitchen smell amazing! Would be so good with the sweet tart gooseberries- absolute favourite this season. (I love sour things, I can suck a lemon without cringing).

    And my ex-roommate was a bit weird liek that too, she liked crumble but not bars (other way round). Weirdos.

    1. Haha, thanks Shu Han. I have to say I've never tried sucking a lemon but now you have me curious. Yes life is populated with peoples strange likes and dislikes, me included. ;)

  4. Caz, this looks amazing! Hahah, "Hooray, free food!" I regret I've never had gooseberries before, and I don't think they're found very readily in the USA (or at least not my region). Yet another reason I can't wait to spend next summer in London ;)
    It has been so long since I used brown rice flour, but I really should experiment with it more.

    1. Thanks Irina, yes it seems gooseberries are only found in Europe so make sure you get some when you are in London next summer. :)