Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fall Baking at the Mill City Museum

This afternoon I did three baking demos at the Mill City Museum. I adapted two recipes from Baking Basics and Beyond for samples. I baked the Chocolate Zucchini Bread in mini-muffins pans and baked Cranberry Walnut Tarts as bars (13x9 inch pan) so it was easy to give samples. It was hard to get the bars done for each demo but we made it, although the samples were warm. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Here's the recipe for the Cranberry Walnut Squares.

Cranberry Walnut Squares

As soon as I see fresh cranberries in the fall I can’t wait to start baking. Because they are easy to freeze you can bake with them year round but they always seem to taste best in the fall. These impressive squares are easy to make- and the crust doesn’t need to be rolled. Be sure to try them with crème fraiche- the flavor combination is incredible.

Makes 15 squares

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs, beaten
¼ cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups chopped fresh cranberries
Crème fraiche

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Place a piece of aluminum foil across bottom and up long sides of a 13x9 inch pan. Lightly spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form and butter is coated with flour. Press the dough into the bottom and slightly up sides of pan. Extending the dough above the sides helps prevent the filling from sticking. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until crust is slightly browned.

Combine the brown sugar and flour in a medium bowl. Add the corn syrup, eggs and vanilla. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. No lumps of brown sugar or flour should remain. Add the butter, walnuts and cranberries. Stir until the butter is incorporated. Pour the filling into the pan. Gently even out the surface so that the nuts and cranberries are evenly spaced.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean in the center. Crust should be golden brown. Center will no longer jiggle when the pan is shaken. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Carefully loosen the bars from the short sides of the pan. Lift the all of the bars from the pan using the foil. After placing on a work surface, cut into 15 squares using a large sharp knife. Serve the squares with crème fraiche. Be sure to remove foil after cutting the squares.

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