Last time, I blogged about baking the Raspberry-Walnut Crumble Bars and how they prompted me to finally figure out the proper way to use parchment paper. I wanted to make the bars because they looked beautiful—and also, I got a sneak taste of them during our holiday cookie shoot and thought they were fabulous. I tried to recreate the fabulousness at home and couldn’t quite capture it, though the fault is entirely my own. Here’s what happened.
The ingredients were a cinch to gather up—most were already in my pantry—and the press-in crust was easy to make. It was kind of fun getting in there with my hands, pressing the buttery dough into the pan and patting and smoothing it down. It reminded me of messing around with Play-Doh when I was kid—but with much more delicious results. Spreading the jam, crumbling the remaining dough on top, and scattering on chopped walnuts were also fun tasks that would be great for kids if you happen to be baking with any (I wasn’t).
I placed my bars in the oven and baked until golden, just as the recipe instructed. I took the pan out and set it on the counter to cool for a bit…and here’s where things started to go downhill. Unfortunately, I had to leave for a holiday party shortly after the bars came out of the oven, bringing them with me as a party treat. Though they were still extremely warm, I covered the pan loosely with tin foil, placed it in a canvas bag, and set off for the subway station. Not ideal, but I had no choice.
About 40 minutes later—after a lengthy subway ride and a 15-minute walk in nearly freezing weather—I arrived at the party destination, convinced the bars would be thoroughly cold. They weren’t. I guess the foil and canvas bag had done such a great job of insulating the baking pan, the bottom was still almost hot enough to need a trivet. Worse, when I removed the foil I discovered that because the bars hadn’t had ample time to cool and set, the jam-crumble-nut topping had shifted in transit, resulting in uneven, sloppy bars. I tried to smooth everything back into place and set them aside to cool completely.
Once cool, I lifted the bars out easily (thanks, parchment paper!) and cut them with a sharp knife. They still looked pretty good, and they tasted good, too. They ended up a little soggier and messier than I would have liked; I’m sure that covering the bars with foil while they were hot caused them to steam while I was in transit, resulting in an overly moist cookie. Everyone loved them nonetheless—in fact, people were raving about them—and next time, I’ll make sure to leave ample cool-down time.
So the moral of the story is: Always follow all baking instructions very carefully, don’t skip any steps, and for best results, let your baked goods cool completely before attempting to transport/cut into/serve them. Don’t think you can rush baked goods, because you know what? You can’t.
The holidays aren’t over yet, so I’m aiming for Raspberry-Walnut Crumble Bars, take two…
What have been your biggest baking mishaps or disasters?