Tuesday, July 29, 2014

#1 ~ Lemon Bars ~ United States (page 16)

Today was my first day of baking and not knowing which recipe to choose, I decided to make the very first one in the book. This happens to be Lemon Bars, which personally I wouldn't categorize as a cookie but the recipe looked very simple and I love anything lemon so I forged ahead.

The bar consists of a simple shortbread crust which is baked alone at first and then topped off with a zesty lemon filling and further baked until the filling is set in the center. Both the crust and the filling are very easy to prepare. The recipe calls for a 7.5 x 11.75-inch pan and the only one I have which is remotely close to these measurements is made from glass so I figured I would need to make some adjustments to my oven temperature. I reduced it to 325 degrees but at the end of the baking time the bars still seemed far from ready so I increased the temperature to 340 degrees and baked about 5 minutes longer.

Lemon Bars fresh out of the oven

Once the bars were completely cooled they were dusted with some icing sugar and cut into squares.


I couldn't resist and sampled one (or two!) pieces. The shortbread crust is buttery and delicate, the filling tart and lemony and the powdered sugar adds just the right amount of sweetness. In short, they are delicious - sort of like eating lemon meringue pie and they make a nice dessert on a summer day like today. This is definitely a recipe I will make again in the future. 

Next Up: Orange-Date Pinwheels

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Sweet Adventure Begins...

So here I am, months after abandoning my scrapbooking blog, starting yet another! Why? Cookies, that's why! When we visited Fort Edmonton Park recently we walked into the Ottewell Homestead where a fire was burning in the wood stove and a lovely gentleman offered us a cookie which had been baked right there. Baked as one flat sheet and then broken into smaller pieces, the cookies were light, crispy, "oaty" and had a slight coconut flavour. In one word - delicious. Unfortunately, I didn't think to ask what they were called but I kept thinking about how good they were and wondered if I could find a similar recipe. 

My best cookie cookbook is "The International Cookie Cookbook" written by Nancy Baggett and published in 1988. I figured if I could find the recipe anywhere it would be there. I've owned this book for a long time and have looked through it a lot, drooling over the photos of all those scrumptious looking cookies, but I know I've only tried a handful of the recipes. And as I was searching the pages, trying to find something that resembled those crispy cookies I'd sampled, I had an idea. Wouldn't it be fun to try baking every recipe in the book? Yes, it would. I love baking and I love eating cookies. And then I thought...why not document the whole thing on a blog? Why not.

The International Cookie Cookbook by Nancy Baggett

So I've made a bit of a plan. With just over 150 recipes, if I try a new one each week I'll bake my way through the entire book in just under three years. That seems doable. The book is divided into the various regions of the world (North America, Latin America, British Isles, Middle East, etc.) with recipes from various countries within. I haven't quite decided how I'll choose each recipe yet - probably just randomly because I think it would be boring to just go through all the recipes of one region before moving onto the next. I'm hoping I'll be able to find all of the ingredients I need, and some of the recipes do require special equipment such as molds, special pans and shaped cutters so I'm not sure yet what I'll do about that and may have to improvise a bit, but I will definitely give this challenge my best shot. 

Let the baking begin!