An oven thermometer is the best thing to improve your baking success rate. Unless it’s the omission of some key ingredient or missed step, usually – in fact, very often – do our baking flops (and successes) depend on the correct temperature. The problem is, not all ovens are made alike – think of the oft-said snowflake metaphor – thus one temperature on your oven might not be the same as your neighbor’s, being off by as much as fifty degrees, and so on. Not to mention keying in factors of different altitudes, weather…it just gets more complicated the more you think about it.
Myself, I didn’t think much of off-kilter oven temperatures and oven thermometers until I read this from Karina Allrich, aka the Gluten-Free Goddess. Beforehand, the farthest I got to thinking about varying temperatures were the differences between gas and electric, and high altitude cooking. After finding out more about oven thermometers, and finding out that newer models of ovens tend to have off-temperatures, I was convinced to get one. Now that I have an oven thermometer in my posession, though, (thanks, Grandma!) I’m amazed. Sometimes the temperature showing on the display is not what the oven thermometer shows. For example, these coffee bars were to be baked at 350 degrees, and according to the thermometer, the oven was off by ten degrees.
Of course, as with ovens, not all oven thermometers seem to be made equally either. Some people have conducted experiments using different oven thermometers and get different readings off them. The best thing is to do your research first before buying an oven thermometer, if you don’t have one already. Another thing is, as part of your pre-buying research, find out what oven thermometers your favourite food bloggers use and what they think (if possible). As for me, I’ll have to see if my grandmother knows what oven thermometer she got me as I threw out the packaging and there’s nothing on the oven thermometer that indicates the brandname, unfortunately.
This recipe for these coffee bars come from the Cook IT Allergy Free app (available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad), developed by Kim of Cook It Allergy Free. I’ve talked about this app before – I have contributed recipes that I’ve previously featured to the app – and now I’m excited to share one of the recipes from this wonderful allergy cooking app here. I had all the ingredients on hand for the cinnamon coffee bars, though that’s not the reason why I chose to make them. I’ve wanted to do something with coffee for a while now, and this was the ticket. As they finished baking, all I could think was that I’d walked into Starbucks.
Dense and chewy, they’re just perfect – I can see this dough as a base for so many other good, baked treats. As far as flavour is concerned, it’s interesting – the cinnamon and coffee create a unique flavour that’s difficult to describe. I also decided to forgo the glaze, these are good just as they are. Everyone loves them, so I know I’ll be making them again!
As my brother is continuing to improve, he has started to have butter again in small, moderate amounts, under my family’s supervision as we make sure that he is able to manage it. So, I did use butter in the bars. However, with that said, I’m still going to continue making dairy-free recipes and keep Z’s Cup of Tea dairy-free for now.
Update 1/10/11: These bars are pretty flexible with what you put in them. Here’s one variation we’ve tried and love with toasted pecans and sultana raisins (linked to photo).
- Make the dough as instructed, reducing the honey to 1/4 cup (the other half will be used for the pecans). For rice flour, I used 3/4 cup white rice flour and 3/4 cup brown rice flour. Chop 1/2 cup pecans and toast in a pan over medium heat until you start to smell the pecans. Be careful not to burn. Separately, gently cook 1/4 cup honey and 2 tablespoons honey until the honey is dissolved and the liquid starts to bubble. Remove from heat and immediately add the toasted pecans. Stir to coat the pecans and add the pecans and liquid to the dough with 1/2 cup sultana raisins. Mix into the dough thoroughly and spread into the prepared pan. Bake as usual according to instructions.
Cinnamon Coffee Bars
Adapted (barely) from the Cook IT Allergy Free app
2 tbsp. butter or solid, soft coconut oil (or Earth Balance)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup hot, decaf coffee
1 1/2 cups rice flour (I used 1 cup white rice flour and 1/2 cup superfine, sweet rice flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. xanthum gum
About 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, or more to your personal taste
About 1/2 cup unsweetened, unsulphured currants
Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a 7″ by 11″ baking pan with parchment paper. (I did not have the pan size specified, so I used a 12″ by 8″ pan, though I did not spread the batter all the way across.) Cream the butter or coconut oil and honey together until congealed and thickened, like buttercream. Mix in egg and blend in the hot coffee. It will be watery after the coffee is added.
Sift the dry ingredients, except for the currants, together and sift into the wet ingredients, blending in. Or, to make this a one-bowl recipe, add the flour, baking soda, salt, xanthum gum, and cinnamon one at a time, mixing well before the next addition. It will thicken and graduate from a thick batter to dough. Mix in the currants.
Use a spatula or your hands (I found using my hands was easier) to spread the dough in the pan, making sure that it’s evenly spread across. If you’re using your hands, wet your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick as much to your skin. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and you can smell the bars’ aroma. (Check after the 25-minute mark to see if it’s done or needs the extra 10 minutes.) Cool and cut into bars or squares. Enjoy!