Friday, October 29, 2010

Raspberry Crumb Bars & Citrus Bars

Raspberry Crumb Bars & Citrus Bars

These raspberry crumb bars got inhaled here at home and will be making a repeat appearance, but those citrus bars?  Never again!  It's not that they weren't good, because what lemon bar isn't good?  Especially one with the addition of lime?  But where the raspberry crumb bars were relatively simple and fun, the citrus bars demanded more elbow grease and then ran into technical issues.

Raspberry Crumb Bars

The raspberry crumb bars involved making an almond-y dough that would serve as both the base and topping.  The base gets baked briefly in a cookie sheet lined with parchment, then cooled and spread with jam.  Then the remaining dough is scattered on as a topping and baked.  When cool, a bench scraper works well as a cutter.  They were bagged with the citrus bars as thank-you gifts to volunteers at an event I organized and excitedly received.

Citrus Bars

The citrus bars?  This one photo speaks to my stress with this recipe.  There were lots of lemons and limes to juice, and the limes took more work.  And then I used a rimmed cookie sheet as directed for the base, but the dough came up to the rim, leaving no room for the pourable fillling!  So I moved and pressed the partially baked dough into this 9x13 pan and the rest into an 8x8 square pan, and poured the filling on top.  It worked, but some dough pieces floated to the top and it wasn't attractive.  But confectioners sugar covers up all sorts of ugly, so I was still able to gift them.

Now I did make this once before, halving the recipe and baking it in this 9x13 pan and it worked out just fine, if you want to try it.  But I'd had enough with this try, plus it's a heart attack special with the 8 eggs, pound of butter, and 4 cups of sugar (which I cut down to 3 cups without a problem).  But I really recommend those raspberry crumb bars!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Apple Cranberry Crostata

Apple-Cranberry Crostata
I put this crostata on my "to-make" list months ago, but I was waiting for the right time.  I always think of October and November as pie-baking time, for those of the apple, cranberry, pumpkin, and sweet potato variety.  Sure, I could have made apple pie in July, but there's something about the aromas of an apple pie warming up the house on a chilly day.  This apple pie is easier than most, since the rustic crostata has no pan and requires only a single crust folded up at the sides.

Crostata in Pan
But maybe that was too free-form for me, because I had this compulsion to also try the tart in a square pan.  I don't know. . . squares and clean rows appeal to me.  It tastes good either way, but I like the sugary crust of the round crostata.  A slice topped with some whipped cream is all the better.  The cranberries lend a tartness you don't get in ordinary apple pie.

Cranberry Apple Crostata
Clockwise from top-left: I used the food processor for even slices -- except they weren't so even and I sliced my finger on the blade, so it's the knife next time for me.  I used Granny Smiths and MacIntoshes.  The dough is rolled out into a large circle.  The filling is mounded in the center, and you can dump it all at once or lay out concentric circles.  The square tart is assembled and baked, then topped with apples cut out from dough scraps.  The round crostata has its sides folded up, is brushed with egg wash, dusted with sanding sugar, and ready to go in the oven.