It’s a blustery day here in Southern California. It’s also Inauguration Day for the United States. What better way to celebrate than to stay out of the wind and bake up a storm while glancing at the swearing in of our new president?
On today’s menu: granola bars and saltine crackers.
For the granola bars, this has been an ongoing experiment. Our first batch turned out with a texture more like banana bread. Still, they were good, and free of gluten, processed sugar, salt and fat. This marks our third or fourth try and we’re getting closer to that crunchy texture of traditional granola bars.
Today’s recipe included:
- Apple sauce (1/2 cup)
- Avocado (one medium size, mashed)
- Almond butter (4 tablespoons)
- Rice syrup (2 tablespoons)
- Puffed rice (1 cup)
- Rolled oats (1 cup)
- Shredded coconut (1/4 cup)
- Pecans (1/2 cup)
All you need to do is mix the mashed apple sauce, avocado and almond butter with the rice syrup and then add the dry ingredients. You can add spices if you desire: vanilla, cinnamon, or whatever suits your palate.
The consistency of the batter should be about as viscous as meatloaf. Spread it on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet in a rectangle approximately 1 inch thick.
Bake at 400 for approximately 20 minutes or so.
Let it cool for 10 minutes or so before cutting into squares. I use a pizza cutter, which seems to work well.
A word about the sweetener:
We don’t like sugary treats. So we have been looking for other sweeteners and came across rice syrup. It is lower in sugars than honey, maple syrup, agave syrup or other alternatives. But you can certainly use any of those.
A word about binding agents:
The trick to keep granola bars together is in the ingredients that, when baked, bind together. This includes the aforementioned sweeteners and any mashed fruit, which contains pectin. Bananas, avocado (not technically a fruit but it applies to this example), apple sauce all work in this regard.
You can also add powdered pectin, which you can buy in some grocery stores and certainly online (I got it from a supplier on Amazon.) Tapioca powder also works. For either of these, I’d suggest adding no more than a couple teaspoons per recipe.
Now, on to the crackers. These are not gluten-free, since they contain wheat flour. I use a very a simple recipe:
- 2 cups of white flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 5 tablespoons of butter
- 2/3 cup of ice cold water
- 1 tsp. of salt
Mix the flour, salt and baking powder. Dice the butter (I use a potato masher to do this). Mix the butter into the flour. Pour in the water. Mix in a mixer or by hand. The consistency should be that of bread dough.
I use a pasta roller to get the right thickness (or thinness). I start by rolling out strips that are about 1 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick. I then put these through the machine, starting at No. 1 and going up to No. 6 for the final cracker. Lay them out on a cookie sheet. Perfórate with either a fork or a pizza perforator (I have a cheap plastic one that I bought online). A bamboo skewer will work as well.
Bake at 400 F until golden brown (about 10 to 12 minutes, usually).
Once again, you can add other spices (garlic powder, onion powder, sesame seeds, pepper, more salt).
We keep them plain so that we eat them with peanut butter, almond butter, cheese or salami. Even plain, they are quite good.
There you have it. Our celebratory, Inauguration Day baking escapade.
Now, you may be thinking: “That’s a pretty tame way to celebrate.”
But, beware, we did get a little wild. We put on a second pot of coffee.