Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Muscovado Baked Beans

Will this winter never end? Will the snow never go away? Will the temperature ever rise above zero again?

I've never felt so desperate for spring to arrive as this year. Even on days like today where the air is crisp, the sun bright and the buds beginning to emerge - you know, the very best kind of winter day that reaffirms all you believe about living and loving the seasons, I am desperate. I have to brace myself to even leave the house now because I am dog tired of thick snow, extreme cold, black ice, wearing layers and seeing my own breath.

The only thing to do in the face of such despair is cook. So back to winter warmers, I've been hunting through my vast cookbook collection and through piles of newspaper clippings and recipes written on scraps of paper to find something that I have not made in a while, something to simultaneously warm our bones against the onslaught of this endless Scottish winter and properly cheer me up.

Muscovado Baked Bean Crumble (a mouthful in more than one way)

A good glug of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp paprika
2x 400g tin haricot beans (or 250g dried beans, soaked and cooked according to pack instructions)
1x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp dijon mustard

(optional 2 tbsp plum chutney)
150ml beer (I used corona)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the crumble topping:
100g cold butter
100g flour
75g porridge oats
100g strong cheddar cheese

Pre-heat oven to 200C.
To make the beans:
Heat olive oil in a heavy based pan and saute the onion and garlic till soft.
Add paprika, beans and tomatoes. Stir well then add the sugar, ketchup, mustard and chutney if using. Stir well then add beer to thin the sauce a little. Season with thyme, a few grinds of black pepper and a hefty pinch of salt. Allow to simmer gently for around 20 minutes to allow the flavours to combine. Add a little water if required.

For the crumble:
Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the oats and cheese.

To assemble:
Put the beans into an ovenproof dish and top with the crumble mixture.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden and burbling.


  1. mmmm this does sound fantastic - perhaps i'll try it for jay!

  2. This sounds delicious...I love the crumble on the top. Thank you for posting on my site ( I have always wanted to go to Scotland; I never quite made it there as a student (for 6 months) at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. I make my cream cheese brownies by putting slices of cold cream cheese throughout the brownie batter that has been poured into the pan and then bake. I have a great brownie recipe on my site. The sharp coolness of the cream cheese and the richness of the chocolate work really well together.

  3. Thanks Nancy, I loved your site and your writing is so beautiful and evocative. I will try the cream cheese brownies this weekend - they sound amazing - love the combination.... if you ever make it back out here let me know....

  4. You inspire me. These sound amazing!!