When I moved from Spokane, Washington to New York City many decades ago, my biggest culture shock was not the traffic or the noise. It was the absence of maple bars! How could these gorgeous glazed pastries be so utterly unknown in the city that never sleeps? Sad but true, maple bars are just a West Coast thing. If you want them in the Midwest, or in regions that border the Atlantic ocean, you have to make them for yourself.
And here, just for fun, is my step-by-step recipe for Maple Bars:
To start, tip 1/2 cup warm water and 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast into a large bowl, and violently whisk them together.
Then whisk in each of the following:
1/2 cup warm milk…
1/3 cup sugar…
A large, handsome egg…
And 1 teaspoon salt.
Now ditch the whisk and replace it with a stout spoon.
Throw 1/3 cup soft shortening (or butter) into the bowl…
And use the spoon to break up the shortening into smallish bits.
Then add 2 cups all-purpose flour…
And stir the batter 100 times in the same direction. Stirring this way helps to develop the gluten in the dough. Or so I’ve been told.
Then add 2 additional cups of flour, and stir the works until a shaggy dough develops.
Dump the dough onto a lightly-floured board…
And knead it for 5 minutes, or until it becomes as smooth and elastic as a baby’s head. Or a baby’s bottom. I always confuse the two.
Anyway, put the dough in a large, greased bowl, and then flip the dough to grease its other side. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm location until doubled in volume — about 90 minutes. As you can see, my “warm location” is a common heating pad.
Want to delay your maple bar gratification? Let the dough rise overnight in your refrigerator.
Now punch down the dough, form it into a log on a lightly-floured board, and then cut the log in half.
With the help of a rolling pin (I love my French pin), form the dough into a 1/2-inch thick, 12- x 4-inch rectangle.
Then cut the rectangle into 6 2-inch x 4-inch bars.
Put the bars on a parchment-lined baking sheet or board, cover them with greased (or non-stick-sprayed) plastic wrap, and let them rise until doubled in volume — 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Repeat the previous steps for the remaining dough.
When the clock strikes 10:49, pour 2 inches of vegetable oil into a 5-quart pot or Dutch oven, and heat the oil to 370°F over medium heat. No guessing here — use a deep-fry thermometer.
And then, with the help of a flat spatula, lift a bar of dough…
And gently lower it into the hot oil. Fry the bar until nicely browned — about 30 seconds per side. Feel free to fry 2 bars at a time.
Drain and cool the bars on paper towels.
If you’re like me, you’ll find an excuse to gobble a pastry while it’s still hot. I ate the one that resembled a football instead of a bar. Can’t serve that one to guests!
Onto the maple topping!
Toss 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar into a medium-size bowl.
Then add 1/2 cup of the darkest and purest maple syrup you can find…
And vigorously beat the two until they’re smooth and spreadable.
Use the back of a spoon or an offset spatula to spread the maple bliss on top of each bar.
Folks, these New York Maple Bars are every bit as delicious as the Spokane subjects I devoured as a child. They’re terrific for breakfast, brunch, or anytime. They make thoughtful gifts for thoughtful friends, too. That’s why I made them for you!
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Here’s the printable: