The Los Angeles Times recently published its 2012 list of top ten recipes (and five "bonus" recipes that almost made the list) from its test kitchen. When I looked through the list, I realized -- much to my dismay -- that I had not tried a single recipe on the list, even though several of them were from the Culinary SOS column, my absolute favorite feature from the paper's food section.
I picked one of the easy "bonus" recipes (a Culinary SOS feature, of course!), House of Bread's Berry Bars. I have to admit that I had never heard of House of Bread before -- but, then again, the only time I've ever found myself in San Luis Obispo is when I've driven the scenic route between Los Angeles and Northern California, which is almost never.
These bars are very simple. The crust and the top layer are made from the same batter, which contains butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, and salt. You spread three-quarters of the batter into a pan, spread on jam (I used strawberry conserve), top the jam with dollops of the remaining batter, and bake. That's it.
These bars are really delicious. The texture of the bottom layer of the bars is very dense, but wonderfully moist -- it reminded of Marcel Desaulnier's velvety White Chocolate Patty Cake. The top layer of batter is quite firm and adds a very nice textural contrast. And the bright flavor of the jam shines alongside the rich and buttery cake. Simply delicious.
Recipe: "House of Bread's Berry Bars" from the July 30, 2012 Los Angeles Times.