Sunday, September 27, 2009

Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars

Photo courtesy of Kristen Doyle

I discovered this awesome recipe on Kristen's Dine & Dash blog earlier this year. I've made these treats several times since and they've become a huge hit with my family, book club members, and co-workers. Unfortunately, the bars always seem to disappear before I can get a decent photo, so Kristen has graciously allowed me to borrow this mouthwatering picture. Not only is she a great cook, but she's an incredible photographer. In addition to her popular food blog, she now hosts an informative blog for culinary photography. I need to spend more time over there!

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened (unsalted)
3/4 cups sugar
1 egg


1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9x9 or 9x13 pan (depending on how thick you want the bars to be) with PAM.

Stir together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Cream softened butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg. Gradually add flour mixture. Spread into prepared pan.

Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle over dough.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Test with a toothpick. Allow bars to cool in pan. Turn out on to cutting board and cut to desired size.

My notes:

These are excellent by themselves, but they're also quite yummy topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

One batch goes far too quickly. Might want to double it!

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Heather's Heavenly Sandwich Bread

It's been almost exactly a year since I discovered Heather's wonderful recipe for sandwich bread. When she first blogged about it, I couldn't think of a better way to save some money (I was paying over $3 for my favorite "healthy brand" at the grocery store), and to be sure exactly what ingredients I was ingesting. I quickly printed off a copy, planning to make a couple of loaves later that week. I can't believe it took me so long to finally try it out. It's such a simple recipe and so affordable and healthy. I honestly can't think of a single reason why I'd ever want to buy bread from a grocery store ever again! Here's what Heather has to say about her delicious bread:

I've tried many, many bread recipes with the hopes of finding a good, soft sandwich bread. One that would stay soft for longer than a single day... it's been important to me that I replace store bought (nice and soft) wheat bread for one that we could make here and Emily would go for... I came up with this recipe, it fits the bill perfectly. And again, I know what goes into it. Let's just say that is my lunch-making mantra.

You Could Call This Sandwich Bread

2 cups warm water (110F)
1/2 cup agave nectar (honey or sugar is fine)
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup light vegetable oil (your preference)
4 cups all purpose white flour (we use organic white whole wheat, germ still in)
2 cups whole wheat bread flour

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the agave in the warm water, add yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam, about 10 minutes.

2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Work in 6 cups of flour. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Use a little more flour if needed. Place in well oiled bowl, and turn once to coat the entire surface of the dough with oil. Cover with a clean damp cotton cloth. Allow dough to rise until double in size, about an hour.

3. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves and place into two well oiled 9x5 loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.

4. Bake in a 350F oven for 25 minutes. When you thump the top of the bread it should sound hollow.

TIP: My house tends to be on the cool side, even in the summer. I turn my oven on 200 and allow the bread to rise on the stove top. Works really well.

For a buttery crust, brush hot loaves with butter. Cool on a rack and enjoy!

My notes:

I use honey.

1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast = 2 packets

I use 3 cups white flour and 3 cups whole wheat and it is perfect. I didn't notice the specific "bread flour" detail and will plan to make it exactly the same way as Heather indicates next time I need to buy whole wheat. I'll come back here and update my notes.

I use my KitchenAid mixer with the bread hook, but still knead it by hand for a few minutes just to get the full enjoyment out of making my own bread!

Make sure you have some soft butter ready to slather on the first warm slice. Or, better yet, homegrown tomatoes and mayo. It just doesn't get any better!

Be sure to visit Heather's lovely blog. She is such a talented writer and not only do I come away from reading her latest posts with more recipes to sample, but I leave with a powerful sense of peace and calmness.

Thank you, Heather, for your yummy bread and your fantastic blog!

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