At EDF we pride ourselves on making fresh food fast. But how much time does it really take to get dinner on the table? One summer intern, Meg Lappe, feeds her family -- and takes notes along the way! Check out her cooking journey in today's Intern in the Kitchen.
Blackberry Crumb Bars, Everyday Food, June 2008
After a long day and a delicious dinner out, I thought that maybe I should make something sweet for my family…. and myself. But honestly, trying to decide what to make was the hardest part. I had heard good things about the ice creams and semifreddos, but I didn't have the patience for any of that. I was actually looking for cookies when I stumbled upon these Blackberry Crumb Bars. I thought that they sounded a little more complicated than the recipes that normally call to me, but they won points for not having an hours-long wait time. Plus, they have the added bonus of fruit (which means they're healthy, right?). A quick stop by the grocery store for eggs and blackberries was all I needed to pickup before getting started. At least, that's what I thought. There was a moment of panic when I realized that the recipe called for confectioners’ sugar, not regular sugar, which I didn't have in my possession. Oops! Still, the recipe was seamless. Want to see how my late night snack turned out? Read on to find out.
10:00 P.M. Enter my house after dinner and begin to gather all the supplies and turn on the oven. I quickly take the butter out of the fridge as it should be at room temperature before I begin.
10:01 P.M. Search the drawers for an appropriately sized pan. I need an 8-inch, but am unsuccessful in finding one, so I substitute it for a 9-inch. The recipe calls for a baking pan, which I take to be any pan in the drawer that I have seen in the oven. My pan is metal as opposed to glass, but I guess that one probably cooks faster than the other.
10:03 P.M. I use margarine to grease the pan, then put wax paper on top of that, which to me seems a little unnecessary at first, but I soon realize this helps immensely in sticking the wax paper to the pan. More margarine and flour are added to the top of the wax paper.
10:05 P.M. The first item I have to prepare is the topping. After melting the butter about 75%, I decide that it is good enough and add it with the flour, salt an brown sugar. The crumbs quickly form, after not even a minute of mixing. I get nervous about mixing too much, so I only mix for a little while longer. Then I put the topping in the refrigerator.
10:08 P.M. Next, I start to put together the batter, but realize that my butter is supposed to be room temperature. Well after only a few minutes of being on the counter, it is definitely still cold. I decide to try and melt it a little, so it will be easier to mix. The microwave heats the butter for about 10 seconds. It definitely feels softer, so I add it to the mix and figure that the mixer will help it to smooth into the batter. Using an electric hand mixer, I whip everything on low for about a minute or so. Again, I get nervous about over mixing, so after a few more short bursts I figure I can add the eggs.
10:12 P.M. Both eggs have been added to the batter and it looks smooth. This eases my worries about the cold butter. I then slowly pour in the flour mixture with the mixer still going on low.
10:14 P.M. With the batter all finished, I slowly pour it into the pan. It is more of a solid batter than a cupcake mix or a brownie mix, but using a spatula helps me to spread it out evenly in the pan. I try to move the batter from the center to the corners because there is a lot of batter concentrated in the middle. It is a tad difficult to move the batter around because of the wax paper, but with some patience I get it all spread.
10:16 P.M. I then wash and dry the blackberries and begin placing them artfully on top of the batter. Once, I start using the second container of blackberries, I am just placing them all over in order to cover the batter. I am not sure exactly how many ounces I used because the blackberries I bought were sold in 6 ounce containers, so I guessed and left a few blackberries in their container.
10:18 P.M. The topping is now fully chilled and I mix up the crumbs more so they will evenly distribute over the blackberries. I also help myself to a crumb while sprinkling, which I have to say is very sweet, but yummy.
10:19 P.M. The oven is ready and so is the pan. The bars head into the oven and I set the timer for 35 minutes so I can check them at that point. Once the pan is in the oven, I pull out my laptop and busy myself looking for more recipes I want to try, while simultaneously checking email.
10:54 P.M. The first timer goes off, but the bars still look pretty light. I set the timer for another 5 minutes.
10:59 P.M. This time I check the bars with a toothpick, but I test it right in the middle of a blackberry, so my toothpick does not come out with moist crumbs attached, as the recipe says. I put them back in the oven for a few more minutes.
11:02 P.M. Three minutes later, I check them again, but they're still quite fragile! Small crumbs are falling off but, since they've cooked for 43 minutes, I figure it's time to call it a night.
11:03 P.M. I place them on the stovetop to let cool. My mother comes down from upstairs after hearing the buzzer and begs for a bite. She's noticeably unhappy when I let her know they need to cool.
11:13 P.M. Snack time! I place the bars on a cooling rack and cut a corner piece out to try it. The blackberries are super hot, but the crumb part is moist and delicious. Feeling exhausted but satisfied, I clean up and head off to bed knowing that a perfect breakfast is already waiting for me.