Food Without Morals

April 5, 2010

Jan Hagel

Filed under: Dessert,Food — by Katie @ 3:44 pm

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

A couple of weeks ago, I was on spring break (SPRING BREAK WOOOOO). I went to my parents’ house for a few days, my house in Quincy flooded, then it dried up, then I went back home, then I went to visit my aunt up in New Hampshire, and that is where this was baked. I realized a few months ago that you can take the girl out of New England, but you will drag the New England out of this girl’s cold, frostbitten, wet fingers (I am trying to be realistic here).

But seriously, the weather that later half of the week was beautiful. So I locked myself indoors (the sun! it burns my pale, pasty skin!) and made Jan Hagel.

This recipe comes from some woman who graduated Guilford College in 1974. I know this, because I got the recipe out of a cookbook my aunt had, titled “‘Of Loving Kindness and Good Will: A Cookbook By and For Residents of Mary M. Hobbs Hall, Guilford College”. For the purpose of explanation, my mom, aunt, two of my grandmothers, and my brother all went to Guilford College. My grandma graduated in Marrying Your Roommate’s Brother, I think. I don’t really know what majors they had in the 40s, clearly.

Anyways, Jan Hagel is something that seems like it should not work, and while you are putting it together you hope that nobody comes home before it is out of the oven just in case it suck and you have to throw it out. And then, it looks okay! And the next morning, it was gone.

First, put on an apron, so that when Bobby comes by later to pick you up for the Sock Hop you don’t have flour all down your front. Then, dump one and a quarter cups of flour into a bowl.

Add half a cup of sugar to your flour.

Add half a teaspoon of cinnamon. And I added mace, because what the crap IS that? and also some nutmeg, because, well, look:

Nutmeg. The noblest and most hallucinogenic of all the spices.

Cut up half a cup (one stick of America Butter) of COLD butter into cubes, and add it to the bowl. You don’t necessarily have to cut it up into cubes, but it makes the next step easier.

Cut the butter into the flour until it looks like floury peas. I used a pastry cutter, but I have used my fingers, and I have heard that you can use two knives, but I don’t even know what that means, to be honest.

Separate an egg, save the white, and add the yolk to the bowl. Ignore the fact that this egg has a bloody spot. Don’t even think the word “fertilization,” and DEFINITELY don’t think “zygote.” And TOTALLY DO NOT call that phone number in the background. It’s probably my grandma’s doctor.

Cut the yolk into the flour. It won’t look wet, it’ll still look DRY. Resist the urge to add some liquid.

Press the mixture into a greased 9×13 inch pan. AAAAHHHH, THE SUN, MY ANGLO-SAXON ORIGINS CAN’T TAKE IT

Good, it went behind a cloud. Lightly beat the reserved egg white (just until the proteins are somewhat broken up and it’s a little foamy); brush it on the pastry. Use all of the white, the pastry should be totally covered with white.

Sprinkle with a quarter cup of sugar. If desired, also sprinkle on 1/4 cup of sliced unblanched almonds. I didn’t have any, so I went without. Pop into a 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes.

Seriously, folks, GONE the next morning. I normally bring back about half of the baked goods I make home with me when I leave my aunt’s house, and there were three left in the tray. I stole one away with me when I left the house.

Jan Hagel
Kathy Buckland Heer, Guilford College class of ’74
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. cold sweet butter or margarine
1 egg, separated
1/2 c sliced unblanched almonds (optional)

In bowl combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and cinnamon. Cut butter into small pieces. Work mixture with fingertips or pastry cutter until small crumbs form.
Add egg yolk and work in until well blended; press dough evenly into well-greased 13x9x2 inch baking pan.
Brush with slightly beaten egg white; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the almonds, pressing them slightly into the dough.
Bake in preheated 350 oven for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and cut into bars.


March 24, 2010

An apology + An unapologetic recipe

Filed under: Dessert,everyone has problems,Food — by Katie @ 11:34 am

Now THAT’S what I call an absence! Don’t let it be said that I half-ass things around here!

But seriously, sorry about that. See, I had good excuses, and when I ran out of good excuses, I just had shame. I won’t let it happen again, promise.

Now, let me tell you about this mystery dessert. See, I went home for a few days last week for spring break (SPRING BREAK, WOOOO), only to have it rain, which meant that I wore my pyjamas the entire time I was home (to be honest, I rarely change out of my pyjamas when I am home, so the rain was to my advantage).

This led to me surfing through my mother’s recipe box, which is unlike most Mothers’ Recipe Boxes in that my MRB consists mostly of recipes cut out from the paper, or handed down from some relative who cooked (some DISTANT relative, knowing my close ones as I do), or, very rarely, written on an actual recipe card.

This was written down as “Lazy Baklava┬á – Albanian Gjalpanik”. Since I have no ethnicity, I was so stoked to get to pretend to be Albanian, until I searched the internets, and learned this dessert does not exist.

I also like things that don’t exist. LET’S MAKE IT

Start with one pound of walnuts almonds. The recipe said to use walnuts, but I don’t like walnuts as much as I like almonds.

Grind those nuts! Grind them finer than I did! You want them chunky, far from nut paste or nut flour, but fairly broken down. You should grind them finer than I did; I had to stop early because I was afraid of waking my brother. It was eleven in the morning and he hadn’t gone to bed until four.

Add your nuts to a bowl, along with four cups of flour and one tablespoon of baking powder. This dough is so short that the baking powder does not make as terrifyingly huge of a difference as it might seem it would. Also, use a bigger bowl than I did. Because holy Flour Mountain.

Now, melt one pound of butter. Don’t even give me that look. Also, check out that tiny yellow flowerpot! When my mom is using her multiple pill boxes, we use that instead to weigh down our “DISHES ARE CLEAN” paper chunk.

Add the butter to the dry goods. It might be kind of hard to stir at first, but it comes together pretty easily. Note that I switched to a larger bowl, for ease in stirring.

Add the mixture to a 13x9x2 inch baking dish. This is slightly smaller than that (maybe one inch smaller, not that much), but it all fit. Flatten out the top with a spatula or a spoon. Try not to notice that there is butter pooling on top.

Bake at 350┬░ Fahrenheit for about forty minutes. It is done when it is firm and golden brown on top.

Now, this is important. Make sure that you let this cool completely. Then cut it into squares, or triangles, or half, whatever you’d like. It is important to cut it now, because we are about to add some syrup.

Bring half a cup of honey, one and a half cups of water, and two and a quarter cups of sugar to a boil. Add in the shaved zest of half of a lemon, and let boil for twenty minutes.

While the syrup is boiling lava hot, and the gjalpanik is cooled completely, pour the syrup all over the top. You may not end up using all the syrup, I had about half a cup left at the end. What is important is to cover the entire top of the gjalpanik with the syrup while you pour, because the edges can get dry otherwise.

Let this sit for several hours. You need to allow all the syrup to soak into the gjalpanik.

This was amazing. I am not going to lie to you- it is not a baked good that can be eaten with one’s hands (however, it is awesome in a bowl with a spoon, in front of Gossip Girl, or whatever classy television show you watch). Another truth: the syrup will pool on the bottom when you remove slices. If you think this is a bad thing, then we can’t be friends.

Speaking as someone who has made baklava from scratch, only to feel murderous after three hours had gone by, I am a fan.

Lazy Baklava

For Baklava:
1 pound walnuts (almonds also work)
1 pound butter
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

For Syrup:
1 1/2 cups water
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
zest of one lemon

Grind the nuts well. Add to a bowl with the flour and the baking powder. Melt the pound of butter and add it to the dry goods; mix to combine. Pour into an ungreased 9x13x2 inch baking dish, and bake at 350 for about forty minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool completely before adding syrup. Cut into whatever shape you like.

In a medium saucepan, add all the syrup ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil for twenty minutes. Fish out the spent lemon peel and pour the boiling syrup all over the baklava, making sure to coat every surface with it (you may not use all the syrup). Let sit out for several hours, overnight is even better.

For Baklava:
One pound walnuts (almonds also work)
One pound butter
Four cups flour
One tablespoon baking powder

For Syrup:

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