Everyone has off days. You wake up in the morning and feel like you have to blink a hundred times before your eyes focus. Walking to the shower from your room, you manage to drop every single article of clothing you are carrying. You drop a sock, go to pick it up, and then manage to drop the other sock. Everything falls out of the bathroom cabinet when you open it to brush your teeth. Your breakfast is burnt beyond oblivion and there seems to be more cat hair in your tea cup than actual tea.

This then carries over to your daily activities. I made cupcakes, overfilling the cups and having to scrape cupcake tops off the tin, then trying to shove crumbs back into the papers to make it seem like I had at least ONE presentable cupcake for my efforts. I made frosting, forgetting that I halved the recipe and having to scramble to account for measurement differences. When I sat down to start my Variety Flour Thursday baketivity, things weren’t looking good. Wish I could say I was one of those people who are unflappable in the face of frustration and failure. But I’m not. And instead of stopping, taking a break, and returning in a more balanced state of mind, I sallied forth with my recipe Everything Buckwheat Bars – the recipe reminded me of a buckwheat flour blondie and I’ve been looking forward to it all week. Recipe said brown sugar would dissolve in melted butter. It didn’t. I used a 1/3 cup measure instead of a ¼ cup measure for the flours and had to TRY to salvage batter using a few tablespoons of heavy cream. Totally forgot to add the extracts. By this point in the game I was totally overwhelmed by my inability to think/read/remember/be coherent that I just threw mix-ins into the batter willy-nilly, without any regard for measurements or outside suggestions. Icing on the cake? I forgot to set the timer and didn’t realize it until I had completely forgotten what time I put the bars into the oven.

As it happens, I fell in love with baking all over again. The bars weren’t perfect, but they came out and looked, tasted, held up like bar cookies. There are some things that have the remarkable ability to withstand your carelessness, frustration, anger, and apathy. These blondie-type buckwheat bars not only withstood the whirlwind of my incompetence but then gave me a sugary, chocolately, coconutty hug, saying “I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect, and everything will be okay.”

Buckwheat Everything Bars

(Recipe adapted from Epicurious)

Yields about 12 bars in one 8 by 8 inch square pan

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons, or ¼ stick, unsalted butter
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix-in options:

1/3 cup almonds (toasted or untoasted) and/or 1/3 cup flaked coconut

¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and/or ¼ cup raisins

(Optional recommendations: ¼ cup sunflower seeds, dried cherries, or finely chopped prunes, or 2 tablespoons sesame seeds)

*I chose to do ¼ cup chocolate chips, ¼ cup slivered almonds, ¼ cup unsweetened coconut, and ¼ cup golden rasins

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease or butter an 8 by 8 inch square pan.

2. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Continuing over low heat, add brown sugar and stir until brown sugar and butter are combined. (Original recipe suggests you stir brown sugar and butter until sugar melts, but my sugar didn’t want to melt.) Take mixture off heat and let cool 10 minutes.

3. Transfer butter and brown sugar mixture to a medium-size mixing bowl. Whisk in egg and whisk until mixture is smooth. Whisk in extracts.

4. In a small mixing bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter and egg mixture. Stir just until ingredients are combined.

5. Fold in mix-ins of choice.

6. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

7. Move pan to a cooling rack and cool bars in pan until room temperature.

Store bars at room temperature up to three days.

 

Back to normal schedule, hah! This week I’m shaking it up and making this post a “Variety Flour Friday Morning” instead of “Variety Flour Thursday”. My only consolation is that at least you at least get differently floured baked deliciousness this week, even if it is a wee late.

I wrote down the recipe for honeybucks a good year ago, and haven’t made it for many reasons. Not everyone shares my love for buckwheat flour, or my intense love of/obsession with honey, but sometimes you have to do things for yourself, like bake a recipe you’ve been curious about for a long time running regardless of possible audience opinion. And, honestly, people have been surprising me with their reactions. Honeybucks aren’t very pretty but the earthy, strong buckwheat flavor grabs the taste of honey by the hand, and they seem to skip merrily into the hearts of others. That’s a long, silly way of saying people like them just as much as I do.

As noted in the recipe itself, I subbed spelt flour for all-purpose; I read that you can usually substitute spelt for all-purpose without changing the result. Mine turned out less fluffy and more like a chewy cookie, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! When talking about them yesterday, my friends mentioned honeybucks might make an interesting base for something else, like a raspberry jam or part of a layered bar concoction. My first instinct was to disagree because the buckwheat and honey are strong flavors, but the more I think, the more I like the idea of being creative with it!

Honeybucks

(Recipe adapted from Vanilla Garlic)

Yields one 8 inch square pan or 9 inch round cake pan

 

Ingredients:

½ cup butter, melted

¼ cup light brown sugar

½ cup sugar

¼ cup honey

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

¾ cup all purpose flour (I subbed spelt flour and had to add a good 9 minutes after the 20 minute mark)

¼ cup buckwheat flour

(pinch of ground nutmeg, if you’re in the mood or market for something spiced)

 

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and lightly flour an 8 inch square pan or 9 inch round cake pan.

2. In a medium bowl, large enough for all ingredients, whisk butter, all sugars, and honey until well combined.

3. Whisk in egg and vanilla until well combined.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk flours, salt, and baking powder.

5. Add flour mixture to butter mixture all at once and stir until just combined.

6. Pour into prepared pan and even out the batter in pan.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they test done, with a cake tester coming out slightly moist with few crumbs. It may look burned, so go by cake tester and smell. Mine took almost 30 minutes (because I subbed spelt flour?), and I could tell it wasn’t done because the center was not set.

8. Cool in pan on wire cooling rack. Honeybucks rise in the oven and fall while cooling. Don’t be alarmed.

Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. I’m going to try freezing a few for up to a month – I’m sure they will be fine.