This week I was called “a baker” three times. Enough already. When people do this I turn my head around as if to see the person they are actually talking to behind me. There is never anyone there. They mean me.
“Who me? A baker? Wuh?”
It sounds so odd when I hear it said yet I resist the label for some reason. I bake, sure, but to be labled labeled “a baker” seems so serious. Besides, I’m not so sure I want to be labeled anything more. At least where food is concerned. I cook and I eat. That should be enough for anyone.
Do bakers have specific responsibilities? If so count me out. These days I have no more bandwidth for any extra responsibilities. So if there are any specific expectations from the bakers collective out there don’t even bother. I’ll just continue dabbling. I like being a dabbler and some of the nicest people are dabblers.
Nobody expects perfection from dabblers, do they?
Bakers wake up early in the morning and they also know the difference between various flour types. Not me. Heck, bakers probably have more than one type of flour in their pantry. Not me. If anything other than all- purpose flour is called for in a recipe I either have to move on to something else entirely (I wouldn’t even know if you could substituted or not) or call I will my friend Belinda across the street to see if she has the particular kind of flour I need.
Self-rising flour, whole wheat flour or whatever it is. For some reason I always think Belinda will have some. I will call her up and ask if I can “borrow” some. She will always say “sure, c’mon over” and then when I get there she never seems to have any of what I’m looking for.
She never does.
“Why did you tell me you have cake flour if you clearly don’t?”
“Well I thought I had it, isn’t that it over there?”
Invariably she will be pointing to a bottle of bourbon in her cabinet.
With a few shakes of the cocktail shaker cake flour becomes the last thing on any of our minds. I fall for it every time.
Oh sure, I know some baking tid-bits like how to role out a flaky pie crust when I need one. I even have an entire cabinet in my garage filled with specialized baking pans — the kind of pans that will only make one kind of thing. I have a madeleines pan, a popover pan, a pizza pan, etc. all of which are perfectly useless for anything else.
All of this only means is that I know how to follow recipe directions and that Amazon Prime is a very, very dangerous thing.
But a baker? Can you even call yourself a baker if you don’t even bake bread?
Its true, I don’t bake bread but I suppose if I had the determination necessary to learn this baking skill I could do so. So far I just don’t have the patience for it. Or the bandwidth. So I instead opt to spend time baking gooey things that are very easy to make that I can bring to work as a plea for attention — like these gooey cinnamon squares.
Gooey Cinnamon Squares
Gooey Cinnamon Squares are the perfect office ready baking thingies for a non-baker (like me) to bake and share with others. If like me you bake to get attention these will do the trick so much better than if you were to put out slices of a lovely marbled rye in the lunchroom. One batch cuts into quite a few tasty squares which translates into a lot of grateful emails all day asking for the recipe. The cake is quite compelling so have fun putting it out and watching your co-workers pretend they are just noticing it for the first time so they can have seconds.
The cake is made in two layers that bake together to become one bar. The bottom layer is essentially a cookie base and the top layer is a moist, “gooey” confection dusted with a slightly crunchy cinnamon topping. The texture is sublime and will provoke all manner of praise. Even if you are not a baker.
Smitten Kitchen gets the credit for these lovelies.
This is what you will need:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
This is how you make it:
- Heat oven to 350 F. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch cake pan with parchment, allowing the ends to hang over at least 2 inches. Coat pan and parchment with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Make the cookie base: Stir together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 min. Add the egg and milk and beat until combined. Stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Spread dough into an even layer in the prepared pan; set aside.
- Make the gooey layer: Whisk together the corn syrup, milk, and vanilla in a bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer cream butter, 1 cup sugar and salt until fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add the flour and corn syrup mixture alternately, mixing each time until all ingredients are incorporated. Dollop over the cookie base and spread into an even layer.
- Mix together the remaining 2 tbsp sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the gooey layer. Bake until edges have set and center is still gooey, 35 min. Let cool completely, about 3 hr. Lift from pan using the parchment; cut into 1-inch squares. Can be kept covered at room temperature for 3 days.