Saturday, October 18, 2008

Apple Spice Cookie Bars

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love when the temperature drops and I can start wearing my sweatshirts and jackets again. There is something about the air that I just love this time of year. But another reason I love this season so much is because of all the fall baking I get to do. Luckily, I have lots of friends and family and coworkers to share my goodies with so I don't have to worry about eating them all :-)

We started a new tradition last year of going to the apple orchard and picking apples. We went to a different orchard this year. It was much bigger and they had things besides apples for us to pick. We got a bunch of heads of broccoli and some bunches of fresh spinach. So exciting! I definitely see a quiche in my future...

But we came home with about 15 pounds of apples, and aside from having plenty of apples to snack on, I knew I'd want to bake something new and yummy. So I went blog surfing last night and came up with these tasty looking treats on Katie's blog. They looked amazing so I decided they would be the first thing I made with my apples.

I am so glad that I stumbled across this recipe. It is relatively simple and the taste screams fall. If you're like me and love fall baking, you must try these!

Katie's Apple Spice Cookie Bars (source: Good Things Catered)

2 c. plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
small pinch ground cloves
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 apples, peeled and diced
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 9x13 pan with foil and baking spray. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Whisk to combine well and set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, combine sugars and butter and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to combine. Add vanilla extract and beat to combine. Turn mixer on slow and fold in flour mixture a little at a time until just combined. Fold in apples. Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle top generously with cinnamon sugar.

Place in oven and bake until cooked through, when top slightly bounces back to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from pan, cutting and serving.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

World Day of Bread - Cornbread

I'm back in business! After months of not posting in my beloved blog, I'm back in the blogging world. I have to give some of the credit for getting me back into it to my good friend Chelle. If she hadn't told me about the World Day of Bread, I would have probably gone weeks or months without posting anything. So thanks for being the extra little motivation I needed Chelle! I am so excited to be participating in World Day of Bread. I love the smell of fresh bread baking in my home. And I have, sadly, not had a whole lot of time to do much bread baking lately. So I am going to use this event to help motivate me to make more time for trying different bread recipes in the near future.

My one and only issue was that I was afraid I wouldn't have time to make something and blog it before the deadline. I knew I definitely wouldn't have time to do a yeast bread. And I couldn't come up with any quick breads that I either hadn't tried yet or was interested in making. So I consulted my other good friend, Martha Stewart. Now I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook is a must have if you're as in love with baking as I am. Some of the recipes seem a little intimidating or daunting, but there's really something for everyone in here. And there are pictures for every recipe, which I love. But my favorite thing about this book is the detail. Martha has taken so much time to explain how things work and what tools you'll really need to do what. There is so much attention to detail in this book, that even a novice baker, like myself, would feel comfortable tackling even the most intimidating recipe.

So I went to my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook in search of a relatively simple, no yeast, bread recipe. There were so many options, but I decided on the cornbread. Cornbread is something that I have not mastered yet, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to try another recipe. The flavor of this cornbread is amazing. The only thing I may do next time is not use skim milk. I think a little milk fat would add some flavor and moisture. Outside of that, this cornbread recipe is very yummy and I will definitely be making it again.

Cornbread (source: Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook pg 51-52)

1/3 cup vegetable shortening, plus more for pan
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable shortening; set aside. Melt butter in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat; add corn. Cook, stirring occasionally, until corn has softened and some of the kernels have begun to turn light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the cornmeal. Using a pastry blender, cut shortening into mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add milk, egg and reserved corn; stir to combine. Do not overmix.

Transfer batter to the prepared pan and bake until the top begins to turn golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Martha's Notes: Sauteed corn moistens this cornbread, but you can moit it if you are using the bread in a traditional stuffing. For a spicy variation, add two medium jlapenos, seeded and finely chopped, to the corn before sauteeing. Cornbread is best served the day it is bakes, but it can be kept at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic, for up to 1 day.