I was recently sent Esther Brody’s The 250 Best Brownies, Bars and Squares to review. I was a little skeptical before receiving the book; the somewhat personality-less “250 Best!” format is not really to my taste. On the other hand, any collection of 250 baked goods deserves to be perused. The verdict? This is not a cookbook you will read for pleasure or leave on the coffee table (only 16 baked good photos are offered). On the other hand, it is a cookbook you will consult when looking for a simple bar recipe. And with 250 to choose from, chances are you will find one to make you happy.
I decided, given the overall simplicity (in a good way) of the recipes that I was going to choose one and just let Alex make it. We both learned a lesson in recipe reading–her in reading more carefully and me in just trusting that she had done so!-when she read the directions and thought she was supposed to dump the boiling water into the flour mixture. Ha! That batch went to the birds–luckily none of the molasses and egg mixture needed to be thrown out. After that things went smoothly. My only real complaint about the bars, which were taken to the neighbors (different set this time!)–and the remainder quickly devoured–is that I would have called this a snacking cake, not really a bar. The only change I made was to use lard instead of shortening. I cannot get organic shortening here in town and other than that I refuse to use the stuff. (And if you are wondering, the book does call for shortening a fair amount, as well as allow for using margarine, something I find a little jarring in 2013. But these are issues easily worked around.)
Old-Fashioned Gingerbread Spice Bars, page 100, Fruit Bars & Squares
Makes 36 bars
- Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C)
- 13- by 9-inch (3.5 L) cake pan, greased
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 625 mL
- 2 tsp baking powder 10 mL
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon 5 mL
- 1 tsp ground ginger 5 mL
- 1/2 tsp baking soda 2 mL
- 1/2 tsp salt 2 mL
- Pinch ground cloves Pinch
- 1/2 cup shortening, softened 125 mL
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar 125 mL
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup fancy molasses 250 mL
- 1 cup boiling water 250 mL
1. In a bowl mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt and cloves.
2. In another bowl, beat shortening and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in molasses. Gradually blend in flour mixture alternately with boiling water until just incorporated. Pour into
prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Place pan on a rack to cool completely, then cut into bars.