Tag Archives: bars

Edinburgh Tea Squares

Mmmm tea squares These crumbly, fruit-filled bars are from an old King Arthur Flour cookbook recipe that isn’t currently posted on their website, which is a shame because this is a tasty, easy dessert that allows for a lot of creativity on the part of the cook. And by creativity I mean that if you’re out of dates, raisins will work just fine. Actually, any combination of any dried fruit will be delicious. Substitute granola for oatmeal, water for orange juice, whole wheat for white flour; it’s all good. I’ve been making these bars for 30 years now (never the same way twice) and we’ve enjoyed all the variations.

Edinburgh Tea Squares Recipe originally from the King Arthur Flour Co.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the filling: Combine 1 1/2 C dried fruit, 1 C water or orange juice, a pinch of salt and 1 tsp lemon rind in a medium saucepan. Mix another 2 Tbs of cold water/juice and 2 Tbs cornstarch in a cup and reserve. Cook the first mixture until the fruit is soft and fragrant – about 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch mixture, stir and cook until slightly thickened, about a minute. Remove pan from stove and allow to cool a little bit while you make the dough.

The original recipe calls for dates, but we’ve experimented with currants, dried apples, dried blueberries and whatever was on the shelf. So far I haven’t found anything that doesn’t taste good in this simple fruit filling. Subbing out the juice is a nice change, too: apple juice with raisins, lemonade with dried cranberries, peach nectar with dried mangoes, etc.

For the dough: combine 1 1/2 C flour, 1 C brown sugar, 1 C oatmeal, 1/2 C unsalted butter, 1 tsp salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse sand. You can use whole wheat or white flour and just about anything goes for the oatmeal: quick or old fashioned oats, granola, and on one memorable occasion, corn flakes. If you use commercial cereal you may want to cut back on the salt.

Pat half the mixture in a lightly greased 9″ square pan. Reserve the rest for the topping.Bake just this bottom layer for 10 minutes while the filling cools a little bit.

Remove from oven but don’t turn it off. Layer the fruit filling over the partially baked crust and then sprinkle the remaining dough mixture on top. Don’t press it down. Put the bars back in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and the filling bubbles around the edges.

The original recipe needs to be carefully divided – too much in the bottom and the top will be quite skimpy; too little on the bottom and the filling leaks out. I upped the dry quantities and added baking time for just the lower crust, so the division isn’t quite so critical. The top layer starts out fairly loose and crumbly but firms up and is better for lunch boxes after a day or two.

I’ve made a lot of changes to this recipe – you should, too!

The Book

 

 

Serious cookies

Today I took off from work – somehow a day off is even better when it’s a really bad idea – and made cookies. I did errands, cleaned the house, visited my mother, cleaned the house some more, put up the tree, and made cookies. That last item is the important part, because these are serious cookies – you need the whole day.

I lived in Philadelphia in the 70’s and had a wide selection of part time jobs while I went to art school. Around Christmas-time I worked evenings at an Italian bakery that had plaster models of fantastical wedding cakes in the windows and specialized in traditional, labor-intensive treats for the holidays. We made anise biscotti and weird sponge cakes filled with lemon cream, almond crescents, white fruit cakes studded with golden raisins and sprinkled with gold leaf, but mostly we made seven-layer-cookies. Pink, white and green almond cake layers with apricot filling and a chocolate frosting on both sides, we made them in huge sheet pans, sold them all to happy housewives the next day and spent the night making more. I know all about how to make them in a bakery , with a walk-in freezer and professional ovens, but I’d never thought of making them at home until I read this post at SmittenKitchen.

I love this site and I’ve found that I can completely trust her work. So – hop right over there and read the recipe, study the comments, and then take tomorrow off to make cookies! Let me know how it goes.

One hint that’s not on SK’s list – at the bakery we added a 1/2 tsp of baking powder to the batter, and were free to add a Tbs (or more, if the ovens were blasting heat) of cream to the colored divisions right before laying them out in the pan. Both additions made the batter easier to spread in a thin, even layer. As a bonus, here’s a pic of the pink layer (colored with Ameri-Color Super Red gel paste) cooling on the table. Doesn’t that look like a fun way to spend an afternoon?

OMG PINK

PS Because I just posted this and someone is already asking, the other cookies on the plate (equally delicious and a lot easier) are Excalibur cookies from Food from the Field’s blog. Great stuff!

Snacks for Thomas

I loved making treats for my son. J. didn’t have any allergies, but some of his friends had to avoid peanuts and it was just easier to discover all the wonderful things I could make without: snacks with fruit, seeds, grain, oats and brown sugar. Occasionally there might be a chocolate chip or three, golden raisins, dried blueberries, good times! Now our friend Thomas is newly peanut-free and we’re happy to contribute.

I don’t have a picture for either of the recipes, so here’s a photo of the Boy, snacking.

Brown Bag Banana Bars, adapted from the King Arthur Flour cookbook

1/2 cup butter, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp. vanilla,3 ripe bananas

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour,  1/4 cup cornmeal, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 tbsp. poppy seeds, 3/4 cup raisins (I like the look of golden raisins. Experiment with softened dried blueberries, too.)

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugar and add the egg and vanilla. Mash the bananas (which will make about 1-1/2 cups) and stir them in. Combine the flours, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and poppyseeds and stir into creamed mixture until all blended. Add the raisins. Spread in a greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges are golden. Cool on a rack and cut into bars. Makes 3 dozen bars.

 

Oaties

Ingredients: 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking), 1/2 cup raisins or dried cherries, 2 teaspoons fennel seed (optional), 3 tablespoons  butter, melted, 1 large egg, lightly beaten, 1 cup buttermilk. (After you get a feel for these you can really load them up with fruit: fresh raspberries and blueberries with plumped raisins, chunks of papaya or peach, dates, really just about anything.)

Directions; Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, oats, raisins, and fennel seed, if using. In a small bowl, whisk together butter, egg, and buttermilk until combined, then add to flour mixture. Stir until batter is evenly moistened (do not overmix). Drop batter by 1/3 cupfuls, 2 inches apart, onto a greased baking sheet. I use the Silpat for these, because they can be a little sticky. Bake until golden brown, 15 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let scones cool on a wire rack, 5 minutes.

 

 

Crispy

When did I turn into the mom who has the ingredients for rice crispie squares on hand at all times? When The Boy was small I tried to make healthy treats, and alternated whole wheat hermits with what I think of as “heritage comfort food”; Fannie Farmer brownies and blueberry buckle, pumpkin pie and the blondies from the King Arthur Flour book. Now that we’re all adults, our favorite treat are the crispies-with-browned-butter-and-sea-salt from Smitten Kitchen. They are just, wow.

I’m not sure how Ms. Kitchen feels about lending out her recipes, so I’m just going to link to it (above). A few pointers from my experience making LOTS of these:

1. Work fast. This is one of those “quick before it hardens into concrete” recipes – make sure you have everything prepped before you start.

2. If someone has actually been eating the cereal as CEREAL, the recipe will work with as few as 4 C of crispies, even though the recipe calls for 6 C.

3. Decant the marshmallows into a bowl. You’ll thank me as you are not dangling an open bag of marshmallows all stuck together in a clump over the pot of sizzling brown butter. And I receive 4 zillion bonus points for using the verb “decant” to describe marshmallows.

4. The recipe says to turn the heat off after you pour the marshmallows into the butter, and that the residual heat will melt them. This has never worked for me – I turn the (gas) burner to low. Residual heat may very well work on an electric stove, but keeping the pot on low heat won’t harm the result.

5. If you’re taking these to a bake sale, make a batch to eat at home. Taking them all away is just cruel.

The Betterbee catalogue is just a bonus. It came today and I’m reading it every chance I get. The rest of the photo is the start of my new campaign to rid the world of over-wrought food photography. You know who you are.

Three-fold Brownies

The ingredients

The ingredients

This is the first receipe I memorized. I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember reading the original recipe myself, from the pre-War copy of Fannie Farmer that included lots of advice about boiling canned green beans and making individual custards for invalids, that they might seem more appealing.  The proportions have changed over the years, but this remains a very dependable recipe for excellent brownies. It will survive your landlord’s crummy oven that won’t keep a steady temperature and can be baked in any flat pan or even (on one memorable road trip) in a folded piece of aluminum foil reinforced with wet string.

They are “three-fold” brownies because many of the ingredients can be easily memorized in threes, by a five-year-old girl, for example.

Melt 6 Tbs (3 x 2) butter with 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate.

In a medium bowl, beat together: 1 1/2 C sugar (3 half cups) and 3 eggs. There is no leavening in this recipe – the eggs are all you’ve got – so whip this mixture until it’s yellow and airy. Or not, if you’re in a hurry. The brownies will be terrific either way. Stir in the butter/chocolate mixture, stirring as you pour so that the hot mixture won’t cook the eggs. Add 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (3 1/2 tsps.).  Add 3/4 C flour and 1/3 tsp salt. Before you fully incorporate the flour, add 3/4 C chocolate chips. Spread the brownies in a greased and floured 9″ x 9″ pan. Bake for 30 minutes* at 350 degrees.

My oven requires about 40 minutes for some reason. You want the top to be shiny and crackled and the insides fairly firm after cooling.

This recipe will also support a 1/2 C raspberry preserves and 1 1/2 tsp of Kirsch instead of vanilla.

Eh voila!

Three-fold brownies

Three-fold brownies

Valentine Cranberry Bars

I think those are Barbie sprinkles. Lovely color.

I think those are Barbie sprinkles. Lovely color.

Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, melted (2 sticks)
1 1/4 cups firmly-packed light brown sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup minced dried cranberries (you really need to mince the berries. I whiz them in the food processor for a minute. You want tiny bits but not a paste.)
1 1/2 ounces white chocolate (such as Ghirardelli brand) chips

Drizzle:
The remaining white chocolate chips melted with 1/4 C butter
1 cup sifted powdered (confectioners) sugar
Enough half and half or cream to make the mixture spreadable

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with parchment paper and then grease the paper, or use treated foil. These are sticky.

To make cake: In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; continue mixing until light. Sift together flour, ground ginger and salt; add to the butter-sugar mixture. Continue mixing until flour is incorporated. Fold in dried cranberries and chocolate. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely in pan.

While it’s still slightly warm, use an  offset spatula or the back of a large spoon to uniformly spread the frosting onto top of cake.

To serve, slice the cake lengthwise down the center, making two long rectangles. Cut each rectangle into four equal portions; slice each of these in half diagonally and then again if you want smaller portions.