Monday, September 14, 2015

Scarlet's Lemon 'Cake' (Actually, Bars. Dairy-Free, With Gluten Free Option) (#TBRReadAlong)

taking place here

I've never really liked cake much. I know, what's wrong with me? Even back in the days when my family really celebrated birthdays, I didn't much care for the cake. Now, ice cream cake on the other hand… I've just yet to figure out how to make one without chocolate. Anyway, as soon as I decided I wanted to make Scarlet's cake, I knew it would be bars instead. It was just a lot of work finding a recipe that was dairy-free or that I could make dairy free. (I'm lactose intolerant.) Then I found a great sounding recipe in Go Dairy Free by Alisa Marie Fleming. I don't need to be gluten free, but that's just an added bonus.

1 Batch Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk (recipe to follow)
½ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice (or less, to taste)
2 teaspoons Lemon Zest
¾ Cup Dairy Free Butter, Softened
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar (I used Sucanat instead)
2 Cups Flour (Unbleached White or, if you're gluten free, Spelt are my suggestions)
1 & ½ Cups Rolled Oats (you an often find gluten free ones at a health food store)

Preheat oven to 350* and grease a 8 inch square baking pan. In a medium bowl, combine the condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon zest. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the flour and oats and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Don't mix it with your hands, it'll heat the butter too much and you'll have dough instead of crumble. Reserve two cups streusel and press the remaining into the greased pan. Spread the lemon/milk mixture over the crust and sprinkle with the reserved streusel. Pat streusel lightly into filling. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the streusel is lightly browned and slightly firm to the touch. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.

You might want to make the milk up ahead of time (I made mine a day before) and have it ready when you're ready to make the squares.

If you're anything like me, and have to be dairy free, you miss the convenience of condensed and evaporated milk. Alas, most recipes for condensed milk sound painfully time consuming. This is no different, but I can attest that it is possible - and delicious. Also Adapted to be sugar free from Go Dairy Free by Alisa Marie Fleming.

(Yields 14 ounces = 1 can condensed milk.)

Recipe for Condensed Coconut Milk

2 - 14oz Cans Regular Coconut Milk (light won't work!)
Stevia to taste (I used 3 packs of powdered stevia)
½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Place coconut milk and stevia in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Until the mixture thickens, stir it about once a minute, stirring constantly after it thickens. It will take approximately 45 minutes for the mixture to reduce to 14 ounces, or 1 and ¾ cups. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.

If you don't have to watch your sugar, the milk calls for ½ cup granulated sugar. Also, you can easily use condensed milk and butter if you don't have to be dairy free.

Cold, these are definitely bars, but if you're like me and can't wait to try them, beware that they are a spoon dessert.