Friday, June 6, 2008

Improv, It’s Not Just for Comics Anymore!

Who said you have to be a comedian to be good at improvisation? Ok, so maybe no one has ever said that, but just go with me here. In the realm of cooking you need to be able to go with the flow and change plans midstream sometimes. This seems to happen to me most in the world of baking; even when the baking is easy and simple…or should be. This probably stems from my lack of education in this department and not always knowing if it is ok to sub some things for others.

A while ago I printed off The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Apricot Bars. They looked incredible. Well, everything she cooks looks incredible. Her pictures make me want to eat things I don’t even like! For instance, I don’t like apricots. I knew it wouldn’t be hard to substitute strawberries though. I don’t think this is where it went wrong.

It also calls for brown sugar. Now I’m sure brown sugar complements the apricots rather well, like it would apples. But in my experience, I’m not a big fan of it combined with strawberries. So, I decided to use white granulated sugar instead. I don’t know if this caused the problem or not.

The problem is that my bars never really got brown and the didn’t really harden. It came out more like a crisp; tasted great by the way, but that wasn’t the point. I wanted the cute little bars PW came out with. Oh well, maybe I’ll try it again with apple and brown sugar. If anyone has any ideas as to why mine didn’t really work out, let me know. FYI, I followed all the other directions to a “T.” I promise!!
**Update! I revisited my bars the next day and they actually stayed together like bars!! I think I tried to cut and eat them before they had really cooled completely. (I'm not a very patient person...another problem with me and baking) Also, I did them in a 8" square pan like suggested, but next time I think I'll do them in something larger so the bars will be thinner. I think they will stay together better that way.**

Strawberry Bars turned Strawberry Crisp
Original Source: Apricot Bars from The Pioneer Woman

1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups oats
1 cup packed brown sugar (this would be where I used white granulated sugar)
1 ¾ sticks cold butter, cut into pieces
1 10-12 oz. jar apricot preserves (I used strawberry)

Mix all ingredients except the preserves. Press one half of the mixture into a buttered 8” square baking dish. Spread with the preserves. Sprinkle other half of mixture on top and pat lightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until light brown. Let cool completely, then cut into squares.

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