Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Old Fashioned Raisin Bars
It has been 11 - gasp - 11 years since I first posted this recipe. Because they are so good, I thought it was time to revisit these deliciously moist, spiced cookies. They satisfy every craving, and they taste of the holidays. They were my favorite childhood cookie.
5 1/2 oz (160 g) raisins or currants
1 cup (250 ml) water
1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
7 oz (200 g) sugar
1 lightly beaten large egg
8 oz (220 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice*
1/4 teaspoon cloves*
2 1/2 oz (70 g) toasted, chopped pecans (I also use walnuts)
* Forager's alternative: skip the allspice and the cloves (keep the cinnamon) and use 2 teaspoons of ground spicebush (Lindera benzoin), instead.
Preheat the oven to 375'F (190'C). Butter a 9 1/2 x 12-inch jelly roll sheet.
Combine the raisins or currants with the water in a small saucepan and heat to boiling point. Remove from the heat and stir in the oil. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in the sugar and the egg (if it is still too hot the egg will scramble).
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir. Add the nuts.
At this point my mother's handwritten recipe says, "Pour into a greased Swiss roll tin." This is sweet. Why did we call them Swiss rolls? But we were fed freshly-made Swiss rolls, sugary on the outside, stuffed with apricot jam, for a special dessert. Those were in the days of sit-down lunches. Father in suit, home from chambers, children in school uniforms, home from school. Doris Day singing in the kitchen. Milk to drink, from a jug on the table. Milk.
It was white South Africa. Where the late 70's looked a lot like the American 50's.
Don't worry, it all fell apart, later. Not just the country - the illusion of the family idyll. We were both broken.
Back to the cookies!
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Loosen the edges and flip the sheet of cookies over onto a wire rack to cool.
When cool, frost with confectioners sugar mixed with lemon juice. This is important - the tartness provides a beautiful edge. After this icing has set, slice into squares.
Try not to eat them all at once. They are good for everything. Stress, sadness, loss, or an excess of anything.
And brilliant for breakfast with a cup of strong coffee.