Tuesday, August 18, 2009

{TWD} Applesauce (hint of) Spice Bars Cake


This week's recipe for TWD, Applesauce Spice Bars, sounded intriguing to me; I was imagining blonde brownies but with a spicy, apple-y edge. But at the same time, looking at the bars in the cookbook, with their little blanket of glaze, they were giving off a "cake" vibe. How to know the true nature of this baked good? Only one way to find out: bake them up and see!

n.o.e.'s notes:

- The recipe calls for applesauce as well as chopped fresh apples. I used a variety of apples: I made applesauce on the stovetop with Pink Lady apples and honey, and for the chopped apple, I chose 1 small Granny Smith and added 1/4 Mackintosh apple.


- Why use light brown sugar when you have dark brown sugar is what I say!

- For the optional liquor note I used brandy (but the flavor was undetectable once the bars were baked)

- I substituted whole wheat for about 1/4 of the white flour

- I put half the batter in 8x8 pan, resulting in bars that were brownie depth (but I forgot to take any pictures of them) and the other half batter in a 6" springform which produced double thickness wedge-shaped "bars."

- Right after I put the pans in the oven I tasted the batter left in the bowl and wished I'd added extra spices.

- My bars cooked very quickly. They came out of the pan pretty dense, but after an overnight sit, they got rather soft and cake-like.

- My plan was to freeze the bars, so I made just enough of the brown sugar glaze for one or two bars - 1/5 recipe. The glaze was delicious; very caramelly in flavor. I ended up wishing I'd made more glaze because the bars never made it to freezer at all! I gave one pan of the bars away to a friend whose mother-in-law was hospitalized, and my husband ate the other pan for breakfasts several mornings.

- I got interrupted at the glazing stage, and it was hours later before I spread the glaze on the bar, so it didn't really look that great:


the verdict:

My husband straddled the bar/cake issue masterfully; after taking his first bite, he said, "good apple recipe." In fact the (unglazed) bars made a great breakfast treat for him.

I thought the unglazed bars were pleasant, but liked this Rye Apple Cake better. But in truth, I like more spice in my apple baked goods than either of the recipes has. However, adding the glaze produced made a big difference.

My husband had the single glazed portion for dessert with ice cream and found it a synergistic experience. In fact, he likened it to eating a "Grillswith" (grilled glazed donut with vanilla ice cream) at the old University Diner in Charlottesville, VA (the UD is no more, but Charlottesville's denizens can still get a Grillswith at the equally greasy White Spot diner - home of the "Gusburger"). The glaze - and ice cream! - really take the bars to a higher flavor plane than the elements can reach on their own.

Good as these applesauce bars were - and I'd put them squarely on the cake side of the fence - what I really ended up wanting was a true chewy bar with apple and spice flavors. Someday I'd like to experiment with that.


This week's recipe for Tuesdays With Dorie was chosen by Karen of Something Sweet by Karen (find the recipe in her post), or, better yet, buy your own copy of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours!

30 comments:

natalia said...

Ciao Nancy ! You actually had understood all the way it was more a cake than a bar ! But apparently we all really loved them !!!

Maria said...

I love the cake version!

Katrina said...

These were good, but I also was hoping they were more spicy blondie like. You round cake certainly looks good!

Leslie said...

I'm intrigued by the cake spin you put on this as I can definitely get behind eating anything for breakfast that has fruit in it. I used the full measure of Vietnamese cinnamon in lieu of ordinary cassia and mine were very spicy.

While I'm sad that one sentence week has passed (I hope it will be reprised!), I'm secretly glad to be able to absorb all of your learning from the recipes!

Kayte said...

Love the shape of that round one, so pretty. Your glaze looks good to me...I would eat that glaze in/on/with anything (well, not with chocolate of course)...it was so good. Interesting to hear your subs, adds, etc. and I know this recipe is going to see several more versions during apple orchard season, so am happy to have some more ways to play around with it. Mark is eating them for breakfast also.

Katrina said...

In trying to zip through my reader today, I just happened upon these bars that look more like what i was hoping for. Thought I'd pass it on, in case you don't see them.

http://crepesofwrath.net/?p=1276

TeaLady said...

No matter what we classify them as, they were good and applely (sp).

I used my spring form and got 1 9" and 1 6" but they were a little 'short'>

Yours look perfect!!!

jillbert said...

I think it looks pretty darn good with the glaze. I skipped this week, but now I know that this is more of a cake than a bar. But an apple blondie sure sounds like it would be good!

Pamela said...

I wasn't expecting to enjoy these as much as I did. I loved them at breakfast and just about anytime I passed them in the kitchen. :-)

mike said...

Pink Lady! I've seen those in my store for the first time and wondered if they were baking apples (for pies, etc)? I'm impressed that you made your own - you're so domestic. :) It looks marvelous Nancy - even without the glaze. I personally think they'd be perfectly fine without it. Although - it WAS the best quick-caramel glaze I've ever made. I agree, the rum was lost... maybe another few tablespoons... Nicely done!

Cristine said...

I love how fluffy your cake/bars look!

vibi said...

First I was on vacation, then the pc busted on me... so a lot of people didn't bother coming to visit on my blog... but you did, and for that... I'm very appreciative. Thank you Nancy.

About those bars... do you think their shippable?

margot said...

Looks great, as always! I was surprised this recipe fell into the cookie category of Baking, it was definitely more of a cake texture; it would be great if you created a chewy apple bar!

ostwestwind said...

Looks great, after all those years with springforms, my family like the bars

Ulrike @ K├╝chenlatein

isa said...

Beautiful cake version!
Great idea to make homemade applesauce.

Jessica said...

I love the cake version! Unfrosted, it looks almost like a coffee cake, and I always love reading your husband's comments on the baked goods. I've been sold on his reviews ever since the butter rum extract incident.

Sweet and Savory said...

These look like the perfect cake or bars for a snack, breakfast or any time. Today is baking day ----no everyday is baking day, as long as I am not the one who eats the results. This one, I will eat but the heck with it, I have to try it. It will hit the spot.

myfamousrecipe said...

Oh my, I'll have to be sure my husband doesn't read this post, or he'll be planning a road trip to
Charlottesville this fall for the grilled glazed donut with ice cream.

I was wondering how, if at all, the brandy or rum affected the cake -- now I know! Thanks for all the detailed comments.

spike. said...

I was expecting more of a blondie too, oh well! Looks like they turned out cakey and delish

Engineer Baker said...

I agree - if I hadn't made them previously, I would have expected a denser more bar cookie texture. But they are tasty, especially if you double (or triple!) the spices.

Cathy said...

You are so right - this was cake. And once I started thinking of it as cake, not bars, I liked it much better. Homemade applesauce had to be fantastic here! Your bars/cake looks great!

David always gets a Gus Burger at the White Spot (fried egg on top of burger). Doesn't get more heart healthy than that!

Amanda said...

I thought it was funny they were called bars too, especially as throughout the recipe instructions Dorie says the word "cake"!

I loved these bars but had to give half the batch to my neighbor or I would have eaten them ALL!

Tracey said...

I'm definitely with you - this was very cake-like in texture! I'm not complaining though as I really enjoyed them, especially with the glaze. Yours look terrific and I bet they were amazing with vanilla ice cream. I found myself wishing I had some around when I ate my bars!

Di said...

I definitely want to make my own applesauce next time, but that won't happen til we get more fall apples down this way. And I want to try the Rye Apple cake--looks delicious (this one did, too).

pinkstripes said...

Your apple cake looks wonderful, but now I'm wanting to see the 'grillswith'. It sounds wonderful!

The Food Librarian said...

Your cake version looks fantastic. And you made your own applesauce. Oh, Nancy, we are all not worthy. :) - mary

Jess said...

These did turn out rather cakey, so good for you for making...a cake! I agree with your husband - these are great for breakfast.

Teanna said...

Oh man! I want to try a grillswith! That sounds amazing! But those bars LOOK amazing! I am going to have to try these with ice cream, now!

Jules Someone said...

When you get an apple blondie recipe going, let me know!

Tia said...

that's exactly what i thought - hey it's more like cake!