Homemade maple bars
My view from the kitchen window while doing the breakfast dishes - the sun is now showing itself on the east side of the barn, which means spring can’t be far off… .
I used to bake a lot when I was more active in local community groups, and while we don’t really eat much bread or other baked goods, when I have to make something for a potluck I have come to the conclusion that I probably shouldn’t show up with sauerkraut or lacto-fermented pickles! I also realize I can’t force people to eat the way we do – I do know that everyone is in a different place in their journey of preparing foods from scratch, so from time to time I will share recipes that don’t necessarily reflect the way that we eat every day, but can enable you to make a choice to maybe make something at home instead purchasing the finished product at the store.
At HD’s place of employment, the guys are always buying doughnuts, while they are fresh from a nearby bakery, they still contain ingredients like soy lecithin and way too much sugar. So while I think they eat too many doughnuts, maybe if I sent some to work with HD, they could at least eat something homemade without too many harmful components.
While these are easy to make, they are time consuming, requiring 3 different rises. So a snowy day was my excuse to dust off this recipe, since I would not be distracted by duties outside beyond my regular chores.
I always proof my yeast before adding it to my dough ingredients. I want to see this bubbly head on the yeast and water mixture before I proceed. Water too hot will kill the yeast, and too cool will not activate it. About 105°F is the correct temperature for yeast. I don’t use a thermometer, if I can hold my finger in the water comfortably, I know that is about right.
First rising of the sponge, which is the yeast/water mixture and some of the flour. Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk. I’m using the warming oven on my cook stove, this first rise takes about an hour.
The sponge has risen and is ready for the addition of the final ingredients. Namely, eggs, butter, sugar, salt and more flour.
Beat down the sponge and add beaten eggs, then creamed butter and sugar. Mix thoroughly and add the rest of the flour. Knead the additional flour into the sponge until all the flour is worked in.
This dough doesn’t always turn out smooth and elastic, so this appearance is fine.
Cover and let rise until double in bulk.
Second rise complete.
After the second rise, punch down the dough…
and roll or shape into a square approximately 1/3″ thick on lightly floured board. Usually instead of rolling I just shape with my hands – you can see my finger prints.
Cut into squares …
and let rise again for about 20 – 25 minutes. During this final rise, heat your cooking oil to 360°F. I deep fry about once in a blue moon, so I use my candy thermometer(which is really my soap thermometer) for this. If the oil is too hot, your bars will cook on the outside too quickly and leave the inside raw. Too cold, and the dough will absorb grease, which is, well, too greasy.
Fry 4 or 5 at time turning with tongs when brown on one side.
Continue frying until both sides are evenly brown.
Drain on brown paper or paper towels. (I used a recycled grocery sack.)
Cool and frost.
MAPLE BARS about 30 small maple bars
9 cups flour – divided (4)(5)
1 T yeast
2 cups warm water
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 t nutmeg
1 ½ t salt
Cooking oil sufficient for deep frying.
Dissolve yeast in warm water, add 4 cups flour and mix well to make sponge. Cover and let rise until double in bulk.
Add nutmeg and salt to sugar, and cream with softened butter. Stir down sponge and add butter mixture, mix well, add 2 beaten eggs. Mix well and add 5 cups flour and beat with spoon, kneading in flour. Use your hands if necessary. Put into a well oiled bowl and let rise until double in bulk.
Punch dough down and roll out to 1/3″ thickness. Cut into squares, place on cookie sheets or large pans to rise in a warm place, about 20 – 25 minutes.
Heat oil to 360°F, fry until both sides are golden brown and drain. Cool and frost bars.
MAPLE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
2 pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar (or less)
maple syrup to taste.
Mix cream cheese and confectioners sugar until smooth, add maple syrup to desired consistency and flavor.
This recipe is from a booklet that our local historical society compiled from the members recipe files. These bars freeze well in foil and reheat perfectly.