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Feb 23, 2018
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By the Book: Alison Walker’s Fruit and Mixed Seeds Bars

October 23rd 12:10pm, 2012

There’s a side of me that would love to take a month off work and learn to bake bread and make cheese and brine my own pickles. So as soon as we ripped open the envelope to find Alison Walker’s A Country Cook’s Kitchen, I grabbed it. The beautiful book had all of the projects I longed to master (or at least attempt): cheese, canning, even DIY liqueurs.

And then the workaholic side of me took over. And before I knew it, by the time the calendar told me it was time for me to cook from this book, there were only a couple recipes that fit into my timeframe. Six-hour wait for fresh ricotta? Don’t have it. One-month wait for preserved lemons? I wish.

So I decided to make granola bars. Truth be told, homemade granola bars are actually something I’ve wanted to attempt, so it wasn’t a complete cop out, even if they were more of a quick and easy recipe than a lengthy project.

The recipe was easy: Just melt some butter with sugar and corn syrup, then stir in oats, flour and a touch of ginger, followed by a handful of dried fruit and seeds of your choice. Spread it all out into a pan, bake, cut and enjoy for the next seven mornings with an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment.

Sounded easy enough, but something went terribly wrong. First, the bars burnt around the edges. The recipe said to bake “until golden.” Well, the centers were just a smidge before golden but the edges were six shades past it, so it was time to come out of the oven. Next, the granola was a bit too thin to really be bars. The pan size was correct, the amount of oats and flour accurate, so I’m still not sure what the problem was. The recipe also called for cutting the bars in the pan while they were still warm. Letting them cool before slicing into them likely would have yielded a nice, firmer bar. And lastly, though I lined the pan with parchment paper and greased it up well, the bars were nearly impossible to separate from the parchment.

Maybe this will become a long-term project after all.

Fruit and Mixed Seed Bars

These simple bars are easy to adapt with your favorite dried fruits and seeds – just keep the proportions the same.

Makes 24 Bars

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
½ cup superfine sugar
3 Tbsp. dark corn syrup
2½ cups rolled oats
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Pinch ground ginger
Pinch salt
1 cup mixed dried fruit (Note: I used apricots, blueberries, cherries and cranberries.)
1/3 cup mixture of pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease and line a shallow 12-by-14-inch baking pan or pan that has sides that add up to the same measurements.
• Melt the butter, sugar and corn syrup together in a pan set over low heat. Mix together the oats, flour, ginger and salt. Stir into the butter mixture, then add the dried fruit and seeds.
• Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden. Cut into squares in the pan while still warm. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Reprinted with permission from Rizzoli International Publication

There are many ways to make homemade granola. Have a favorite recipe and method? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win A Country Cook’s Kitchen. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Lizzie, whose comment on last week’s By the Book column has won him/her a copy of Masala Farm by Suvir Saran. Lizzie, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.

By Stacy Schultz

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3 Responses to “By the Book: Alison Walker’s Fruit and Mixed Seeds Bars”

  1. Colleen Dempsey Dotson Says:
    October 23rd, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    hmmmmmm I love homemade granola bars- there is nothing else like it. Once you see how easy it is, you will never buy store bought again. I don’t really use a recipe, instead I like to just mix it up. I like to use a bit of maple syrup in mine sometimes. I love that maple sweetness. Honey is also good instead of the corn syrup and just add about 1/4 packed brown sugar to that. YUM! And don’t be afraid to add nuts too- almonds, peanuts, cashews and they don’t have to be chopped fine- chunks are fun. I do like more salt – about 1/2 tsp- it will really make the flavors pop! hahahahah I realize I have been rambling on! Can you tell granola is my passion lately! Thanks again for listening. I love your magazine and I love By The Book!

  2. HannahE Says:
    October 23rd, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I’ve never made granola bars, but would love to! Would love to learn the other practical ideas and methods in this cookbook as well.

  3. Cherie Says:
    October 27th, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    I like using maple syrup, honey, and brown sugar instead of corn syrup. I like nuts instead of fruit too: almonds, pecans, and walnuts. Sometimes I add in shredded coconut for fun.

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