Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Challenge #1 - Chewy Granola Bars....More Thoughts

So back to my Chewy Granola Bar Challenge.....I'm still thinking, still looking at countless websites, comparing recipes, comparing notes....and this is what I've concluded so far.

(1) I have no idea why they would add the baking soda. Really. The butter isn't that acidic as to need it. Plus I think it would dry it out.

(2) The only thing I can think of as to why they also added the flour was to help the honey/sugar mixture stick to the oats. But at the same time I think it would aid it in drying out.

(3) Steel Cut oats are out for granola bars. Maybe for just plain granola because you can put that on something moist like yogurt or cereal. Steel cut oats take longer to cook. Rolled oats are the way to go - The Old Fashioned Rolled Oats NOT quick cooking oats.

(4) One website gave a great description about making better granola bars and they summed it up as follows:
* Toast the oats before blending them. This extra step maximizes the nutty flavor of the oats.
* Blend honey and light brown sugar to sweeten the bars and "glue" them together.
* Press the oat mixture into the pan firmly. Otherwise the bars will crumble and fall apart easily.
* Bake the bars at a low temperature (300 degrees) so that the honey mixture thoroughly dries out without the oats burning. If the honey doesn't dry out the oats will be crumbly.

(5) I was asked if baking soda contributes to the overall flavor - I have no idea. But what I've read today baking soda is used to neutralize the acid and act as a leavening agent. I think if you were making something like banana bread (one ingredient is buttermilk) you would need it because buttermilk has a higher acidic range than say butter and you would probably taste a difference. I think in this recipe the baking soda would not contribute to the overall flavor.

(6) I was also asked what causes butter to become rancid? Butter is made from animal products - aka heavy cream. It only has a shelf life (in the fridge for 3-5 months) after that it will start to break down. I just googled that because I had no idea myself. I cook A LOT with butter so it never stays in my fridge more than a week. Buttermilk was usually the liquid left behind after churning butter. But today we see Cultured Buttermilk on our store shelves - in which lactic acid bacteria is added to milk.

(7) Then I had a question about honey crystallization. I had no idea why it does that. I've had it happen before so I had to do alittle google search. You can read here to find out why.


  1. I followed the reviewers advice to push down the granola bars and it kept them together better. they still crumbled somewhat, but it was because they were dry more than anything. i even pushed them down again in the middle of baking. LOVE THIS JULIE!!! I hope more people give you cooking challenges! :)

  2. So the low temp for the honey makes sense - have you compared this recipe to several others? - do they ALL call for baking soda? I compare recipes often to see what people combine, but usually for cooking not baking - but this seems more like "cooking" in the oven ;D Love it ~ thanks for all the answers, I have a jug of crystalized honey, now I know why!

  3. oops - I re-read your post ~I see that you ARE comparing (ths is what I get for being a chronic "skimmer" ~ BTW, I have a recipe challenge for you when you're ready :D