My youngest son & me

My youngest son & me

About me

My name is Tanja (Sater) Miller and I'm excited about sharing my journey of converting my favorite recipes to gluten free! I am not a fancy cook - I prefer just a casual, fun meal. I am married with grown children (and have small grandchildren) & 3 dogs. I work full time as a registered nurse & I am a geek. Yes, I love Star Trek, Star Wars, Fringe, Firefly, Farscape and most of the other Scify shows. You will probably see a little of my geek side come out once in a while! Please join me on my journey of cooking, baking & converting every day recipes into yummy gluten free meals that everyone can enjoy (not just those with a gluten allergy!) Don't be shy about checking out my recipes....I have the gluten free version along with the regular recipe that I adapted from!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Butter Crumb Bars

Butter Crumb Bars. Super easy! I came up with this recipe many years ago when I used to work at General Mills. Employees were able to purchase a case of cereal and a case of Betty Crocker cake mixes for a $5 donation several times a year. Needless to say, I had to find creative ways to use up all those cake mixes! The inspiration was the lovely butter crumb bars with jam/fruit filling that we enjoyed while visiting my mom's family in Germany. The buttery crumb topping would just melt in your mouth.  I love visiting Germany and these bars remind me of the wonderful times I have spent with our family there. My mom would make them once in a while from scratch but they were a lot more work. I began experimenting with cake mixes one Christmas season years ago when we lived in Ohio because I had so many cake mixes + I was out of flour and was housebound with sick kids. I let the creativity begin! These buttery bars were the result of my experimenting. (Yes, there were many batches of bars that I ended up throwing away before I got this result!)  I also have several other varieties that I make that are similar using cake mixes. (Will post them in future).

Since this basic recipe is SOOOO EASY, I was able to adapt it to Gluten Free by using Betty Crocker Gluten Free cake mix (or if you are a diabetic, you can substitute the Sugar Free Pillsbury cake mix). There are other brands of cake mixes that are gluten free as well and any of them should work just fine. Of course, if you don't have a gluten allergy you can just use the regular yellow or butter yellow flavor cake mix which are very inexpensive and very convenient! You can also make homemade yellow cake mix (recipe size for a 9x13 or two round cakes) and just don't add the wet ingredients so it would be the same as a store bought mix.

My dad and Grandma Goldie really liked raisin or date cookies so one year I cooked down some raisins with a little water to make a paste to use instead of the jam which they really liked. (I used the yellow cake mix with the raisin or date filling). I have also made a chocolate version using chocolate cake mix but used a mint filling or a chocolate/caramel filling in place of jam. I love this recipe because it is so versatile and you can use any flavor of cake mix and whatever filling you want to make it customized. I have noticed that Home Goods Store, TJ Maxx and Ross for Less stores carry gourmet gluten free and sugar free cake mixes frequently at a bargain price compared to specialty stores. (I have seen red velvet, lemon, carrot cake, poppyseed, etc. cake mixes in gluten free there) I happen to like the yellow cake mix or the chocolate cake mix so I usually stick with the Betty Crocker Gluten Free cake mixes that I can find at most grocery stores. (But I am thinking about trying a red velvet version with a cream cheese filling this year!)

Butter Crumb Bars:
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Gluten Free yellow cake mix for today's recipe but I have made them for friends and family using the regular cake mix or the sugar free cake mix for the diabetics). 
  • 1 1/2 sticks of real butter, melted (I have used margarine in a pinch but honestly it doesn't have the melt in your mouth flavor that real butter does).
  • Jam, Jelly, Preserves or Apple Butter, pie filling or canned fruit that has been drained so it won't get the crust soggy (I usually use homemade jam or filling but I wanted to make peach flavor today so I just bought a jar of peach preserves at the Dollar Store. They have a great selection of nice jam for $1 and the cute little chubby jars are great to up-cycle. I take off the labels and paint the lids with chalkboard paint to store herbs, seasonings, craft items, etc.) If you are baking for a diabetic you can use sugar free jam/jelly or Comstock has a sugar free pie filling. My mom takes crushed pineapple and combines with a couple tablespoons of corn starch or tapioca starch and cooks on the stove until thickened in place of jam which is also DELICIOUS! I added about 6 oz of preserves (about 1/2 jar) to my batch today. If you like it thicker, feel free to add more!
  • If you want to add some extra creamy richness to this lovely dessert you can add 4 oz. of softened cream cheese with  2 tbs. of sugar. (I have made this dessert with and without the cream cheese. It is a lovely addition to the bars but the bars are delicious without it too. If you want to keep it simple then I would just leave this out.
Pour the dry cake mix and melted butter into a mixing bowl. (Yep, that is it. No eggs, no liquids, just the melted butter!) Hand mix with a spoon until it becomes coarse crumbs. Press about 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a greased 9x9 or a spring-form pan. If you are using the cream cheese/sugar mixture then spread it directly onto the crust and the jam on top of the cream cheese. If you are leaving out the cream cheese/sugar mixture then just spread the jam/filling directly onto the crust. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 crumb mixture onto the top of the jam. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes or until top and crust is lightly golden brown. Cool completely before cutting.

These are a great addition to holiday cookie plates. I like to bake them in disposable pans with lids to give away with a small bag of coffee as a gift to friends. I have also baked them in individual tiny ceramic loaf pans that I get at Michael's Crafts for about $1 each (makes about 6 single tiny loaves) and wrap them in clear cellophane treat bags with ribbons for holiday favors or stocking stuffers.

This is what the batter should look like: coarse crumbs
$1 Store peach preserves I purchased for today's batch then "up-cycled" empty jar as a craft storage jar

Butter Crumb Bars baked in disposable pan for gift giving!

Butter Crumb Bars baked in a small single serve loaf pan

Ready to eat! (Peach Jam Version)

Up Close peek at the delicious buttery bars! (Peach Jam version)

I hope you find this recipe to be quick, easy & delicious. It is a recipe that my kids could enjoy helping me make when they were growing up because it was so simple. It is a great fast treat to make for last minute company, pot lucks, bakes sales or just because you are craving something sweet...because it only takes a few minutes to throw together and quick cleanup!

Gluten Free Casually

No comments:

Post a Comment