Why am I craving Pumpkin in June, while my friends on the other Coast are eating ice-cream? Well, because it is June-uary in Seattle. There is something really wrong when you find yourself reaching for fleece and boots in June. That pedicure was such a waste! Those of us who have lived in the Pacific Northwest for a long time know better than to expect calendar-based weather. But c'mon. This is plain ridiculous. I am sick of it. Well, they say it is supposed to get much better this weekend....
I hope the weather cooperates because we are off to one of my favorite family getaways in the Northwest, Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast. It probably helps that there is level sandy beach (an extreme rarity here) and that R took his first real steps on Cannon Beach. It was adorable and I have many many fond memories of that trip. A, who was just about 3, made tons of 'sushi' using all the slimy seaweed he could find (maybe that was his first love affair with Sushi).
I always like to have some home-baked treats in the car when we leave for a road trip. It is one of those quirky things I do. In addition to packing, arranging for Casey to be dropped off at doggie boarding, finishing up chores that need to get done, etc., I bake. J tells me I need to learn how to simplify my life, but what can I say? I like being busy; I hate to admit, but I think I almost thrive on it. So, my handy kitchen helpers, A and R and I baked last night. Since its fall-like weather around here, I was craving something warm, spicy, pumpkin-y. Pumpkin bars it was to be! (notice the kids' opinion was not solicited, otherwise we'd end up with brownies, again!).
My recipe uses a combination of whole grain flours. The original recipe calls for all whole wheat flour, but I find that whole wheat flout when used by itself adds a bitter-ish taste to the bars. Over the years, I have experimented a lot, and have found that I really like the combination of white whole wheat flour and another grain (spelt, oat, barley, kamut, etc) for baked treats.
These bars have a lovely burnished copper hue and are similar to cakey brownies in texture. I oh-so love chocolate, but these offer a nice change from the ubiquitous (yet ever-so delicious) chocolate treat. Not to mention the warm spices are perfect for June-uary. Enjoy!
Golden Pumpkin Bars
(Adapted from the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking book)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tso vanilla extract
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine)
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole grain spelt flour
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter a 9 X 13 inch pan.
2. Melt the butter over low heat (or use low setting on microwave). Add the sugar and combine. Heat the mixture briefly until it is hot and starts to bubble. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and allow it to cool till you can comfortably test it with your finger.
3. Add the flours, salt, baking powder, and spices in a bowl. Mix well.
4. Add vanilla and egg to the butter-sugar mixture, beating until smooth. Stir in the pumpkin. Beat 20 seconds or so until fully incorporated.
5. Gently stir in the chocolate chips, cranberries and ther flour, mixing thoroughly. Spoon the batter into the greased pan.
6. Bake until a sharp knife inserted into the middle reveals just a few moist crumbs, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack 15-20 minutes.
7. Cut into 24 2-inch bars. Take the bars out of the pan and cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.