Monday, April 16, 2012

Apricot Bars in the Wood Cookstove

After this last weekend, I think I'm finally beginning to understand Marjorie the Margin Gem Cookstove better.  As I baked these bars tonight, I felt like the two of us were much more "in tandem" than we have been so far.  Jane Cooper, in her book Woodstove Cookery: At Home on the Range hits the nail on the head when she writes "You are as much responsible for the final product as the stove; rather than being your slave, it's a partner.  You learn to cook together."  Tonight, I'm happy to announce that I feel like Marjorie and I are finally coming to an understanding. 

I promise a long post about how to operate the Margin Gem later when I feel like I've become an expert.  The purpose of this post is to share with you all an excellent wood cookstove recipe that I found.

For my readers who are from outside my area of the Midwest, I need to first give a little background information.  I found this recipe for Apricot Bars in the April 1974 issue of Kitchen Klatter MagazineKitchen Klatter was the longest running radio homemaker show in America.  Broadcast from Shenandoah, Iowa, to several radio stations throughout the Midwest, Leanna Driftmier (and later her daughters) had a huge following among the homemakers of America's Heartland.  The popularity of the radio show led to the publishing of a monthly magazine, the development of a line of flavorings and salad dressings, and then to the manufacture of some high quality cleaning products.  The brand is now known as X-tra Touch and is still widely sold in our area of the Midwest.

The April 1974 edition of Kitchen Klatter Magazine.
Leanna Driftmier, founder, is seated at left.
This recipe is a great wood cookstove recipe because it takes advantage of the heat of the cooktop while using the oven, too.  Of course, the deliciousness of the end product makes it a good recipe for any stove, but I always think that any recipe which would have meant turning on an extra burner or heating element in a modern stove is particularly well suited to the wood cookstove since that extra heat is already available from the same fire. 

Keep in mind that I doubled the recipe, so the pictures below are going to show a larger version than what the captions indicate.  Here is what to do:

Cut 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 sugar, 1 cup sifted flour, and 1/4 tsp.
butter flavoring together with a pastry blender.
Press into the bottom of a lightly greased pan.  Pop this mixture into
a moderate oven for approximately 25 minutes or until it begins to
brown very lightly around the edges.
The recipe says to use 2/3 cup dried apricots, but I think that a
full cup is better.  Put 3 tablespoons of water on the apricots in
a saucepan.  I put a splash of X-tra Touch apricot flavoring in
too in order to freshen their flavor a bit.
While the bottom crust is in the oven, simmer the dried apricots,
watching to make sure that they don't boil dry.

While the crust is baking and the apricots are simmering, beat
two eggs.  Beat in 1 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup sifted flour,
1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. vanilla (I used more),
and 1/4 tsp. almond flavoring. 
And now a word from our sponsors: X-tra Touch almond flavoring really is the best almond flavoring on the market.*

*I did not receive any remuneration or other consideration from the kind people at X-tra Touch for my endorsement of their product.  They know that I exist, but they are, at this writing, unaware that I am giving them free advertising on my blog.  While I'm on this jag, by the way, I'd like to mention that their butter flavoring is really quite good, too.  Oh, and did I mention that their laundry detergent is superior to anything else I've ever tried?  I didn't?  Then let me also just say that their laundry detergent is superior to anything else that I've tried.  Their color-safe bleach has salvaged many a garment around here, as well.  Oh, no!  I totally forgot to mention their Honey Dijon Dressing--OUT OF THIS WORLD!

Drain any remaining simmering water from the apricots and
add them to the brown sugar and egg mixture.
Poor the brown sugar/egg/apricot mixture over the hot crust.
Make sure that the apricots are evenly distributed.
Pop it all back in a moderate oven for about 25
minutes or until it is a deep golden brown.
When it is ready to come out, it will look puffy on the top.
As it cools, the brown sugar/egg mixture falls and creates a
gooey, yummy caramel layer.

Sprinkle the top with a little powdered sugar once they have cooled
quite a bit.  I'm sorry that the picture is of such a small piece, but the
rest are going to school tomorrow.  This piece didn't even make it to
the room where our computer is.

Here is the recipe the way it appeared in the 1974 magazine:

Apricot Bars

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 tsp. Kitchen-Klatter (now X-tra Touch) butter flavoring
2/3 cup dried apricots
2 to 3 Tbls. water
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Kitchen-Klatter vanilla flavoring
1/4 tsp. Kitchen-Klatter almond flavoring

Combine butter or margarine, sugar, 1 cup flour and butter flavoring.  Pat into a greased 8-inch square pan.  Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  While this is baking, combine apricots and water and simmer until soft.  (Add a bit more water if needed, but use as little as possible.)  Beat eggs and combine with brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, baking powder and salt.  When blended and beaten smooth, add remaining flavorings and apricots.  Spread on top of baked crust.  Nuts may be sprinkled over the top if desired.  Bake in 350-degree oven until golden on top, about 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and cut in squares while warm.  Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.

As you can see, these bars are neither healthy nor economical, but I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!


  1. So I have to ask. I have searched the www and cannot find this awsome laundry detergent you speak of. Care to direct me in the right direction. From what I could tell it isn't being produced anymore. (But I'm hoping I'm wrong on this)

    1. Unfortunately, you are correct. X-tra Touch made the decision to stop producing their line of detergents in the middle of 2013. They told me that the detergents used to be 40% of their business, but it had decreased to less than 2%, and the FDA was giving them a very bad time about producing both foodstuffs and detergents in the same facility even though they were made in entirely separate kitchens. So . . . we are now at the mercy of P & G and their counterparts. I'm doling out the last major purchase of their detergent (made during the summer of 2013) very sparingly.