Chew On This

Andrea Weigl: Baking on the grill

Baking on the grill? Yes, indeed

July 3, 2012 

ÒTwo Chicks From The Sticks: Back Home Baking,Ó by Jill Schwalbe Means and Jamie Greenland Gorey.

  • Peanut Butter Frosting From “Two Chicks from the Sticks: Back Home Baking,” by Jill Schwalbe Means and Jamie Greenland Gorey (Meredith, 2011) 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter Dash of salt 2 cups powdered sugar 3 to 4 tablespoons milk COMBINE butter and peanut butter in a mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Stir in salt. Add powdered sugar and milk alternately, then beat well. Spread over cooled bars.
  • Peanut Butter Bars From “Two Chicks from the Sticks: Back Home Baking,” by Jill Schwalbe Means and Jamie Greenland Gorey (Meredith, 2011) 1 1/2 cups flour, sifted 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 cup butter, room temperature 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 1 cup brown sugar 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 cup rolled oats Frosting (recipe follows) PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or two 8-inch square baking pans; set aside. SIFT together baking soda, salt and flour; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and peanut butter. Add brown sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Stir in egg and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture to the cream mixture and mix until just combined. Add oatmeal; mix well. PRESS the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out somewhat clean. (The bars will not brown.) Cool bars completely before frosting. SPREAD frosting evenly over the top of cooled bars. Yield: 24 bars

A few months ago, our 30-year-old oven started shooting sparks out the back.

My husband’s attempt to fix it was futile. And though I didn’t want to spend the money, we have wanted a new stove for a long time.

I grew up cooking on gas and longed to replace my temperamental electric range whose oven temperature is constantly off by 50 to 75 degrees. We would have to hire a plumber to run a gas line, but the expense seemed worth it for a stove we hoped would last 30 years. So we happily dove into comparison shopping: checking out Consumer Reports rankings and visiting appliance stores.

In the meantime, we were afraid to use the old stove, fearful that it would start a fire.

We ate a lot of sandwiches and turned to the gas grill for any cooking. We made stir-fries on the side burner. We grilled chicken and steaks.

One night when my husband was craving something sweet, he decided to try to bake on the gas grill. I was skeptical. But he found some advice on an online forum where avid grillers talk about baking brownies, cookies and even bread.

With the unbearable heat this weekend, I decided to make dessert. But I didn’t want to raise the temperature of the house above its deliciously cool 71 degrees. And so I used the grill to bake peanut butter bars (the recipe is on page 2D).

Best of all, I learned a few lessons about baking on a grill. You want to use indirect heat. So turn on one burner on the left side and place your baking dish on the right.

It doesn’t take much for the grill to get hot enough to bake. To start, I cranked up two burners. In minutes, the grill was at 500 degrees when I only needed 350 degrees. The sweet spot for baking in our grill is one burner on medium-low. It will likely take some trial and error to figure out what works for your grill.

The peanut butter bars turned out well, although next time, I’d make chocolate frosting instead. If you would like to read more, here’s the online forum my husband found: http://bit.ly/LStbkK.

This little tale ends well. Not only did I get my dream stove, a stainless steel gas range with an electric oven, but a broken range and a heat wave taught me that the grill is your friend.

To see a printable version of the recipe, click on name below:

Peanut Butter Bars

Weigl: 919-829-4848 or aweigl@newsobserver.com

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