Sunday, March 4, 2012

Frosted Coffee Bars


Frosted Coffee Bars are not really bars (as in bar cookies) but rather cake (as in sheet cake). Not that there's anything wrong with that!


This unusual confection is a delicious alternative to muffins and an excellent choice for breakfast or afternoon tea.  Typical of cakes from the 1930s and 1940s, this one is laced with chopped nuts and raisins. The addition of brewed coffee lends the cake a deeper color and more complex flavor.  I suspect the originator of this recipe had a bit of warm coffee on the stove and decided to use that as the liquid rather than the more expensive milk. (Coffee is often used in chocolate desserts because it intensifies and deepens the chocolate flavor, while its own distinctive coffee flavor is hidden, but that's another story).


These are not gorgeous, but they are strangely addicting.
If you do make them, please don't skip the important step (as I did) of greasing the pan.  I thought using aluminum foil would be fine, but they would have released much easier if I had oiled (with butter, Crisco or even Pam) the foil first.
At first, the batter will appear curdled.  But forge ahead...


And voila, it will smooth out beautifully.


All those holes in the cake are from testing to see if it was done. That's one of the toughest tasks of baking -- getting it just right.  I tend to under-bake everything, a direct reaction to my grandmother's tendency to over-bake everything.  Trust me, neither is a good thing.


Mix up the frosting and spread on the whole cake before cutting into squares.



I used instant Italian espresso in place of the Nestle's instant coffee and butter for the shortening.  Also, I used a 9 x 13 inch pan, as I don't have the 10 x 15 pan called for in the recipe.  That size is no longer widely available and may not even be made any more.


6 comments:

  1. How do you think the cake would taste with chopped dates in place of the raisins? It sounds so good but I'm just not a fan of raisins once they've been cooked, and I'm sure I would be picking them out of the cake. (Weird, I know!)

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    1. Tugs Girl: I think that's a brilliant idea! I, too, don't care much for raisins (raw or cooked), but not enough to pick them out. Too lazy, I guess. Dates would be a wonderful substitution!

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    2. My 10" x 15" x 1" pan was called "jelly roll pan" when I bought it. (admittedly a loongg time ago) You can no longer find them? Horrors! What else would one use for swiss roll, bars, jelly roll, toasting rolled oats evenly, etc., etc. ?

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    3. Anonymous: My "jelly roll pan," purchased in the past few years, is 13 x 17. I haven't looked for the other size but I've discovered that many of the pan sizes called for in old recipes (7 x 11 was popular) are no longer available. Which, sadly, makes for a lot of baking math.

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  2. Susan, I'm going to make these (with dates) this week and in looking through your notes and the recipe again was wondering if 15 minutes was a good approximation of the actual baking time. Do you recall how long you baked the cake? Thanks much!

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    1. Sorry for the delayed response, Tug's Girl. I truly can't recall the exact baking time, but I sort of recall that I baked them longer than 15 minutes. As an experienced cook yourself, I'm sure you know that baking times are so variable because ovens differ so much. In fact, I hardly ever set a timer anymore -- I just stay close to the kitchen and can usually tell me the aroma when something is done, or close to it. But in the future, I'll try to record the baking times; it would be a nice courtesy, no? Please report back if you make these.

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