The Baking Bug

I'm not sure if people out there have been watching the news or even if what's been happening less than four miles from my home has even been making the news. For over two weeks, there have been ongoing protests at the Capitol in Madison and solidarity rallies around the country about an attempt by the state's new governor to change the landscape in Wisconsin via a proposed bill that would, among other things, strip collective bargaining rights from the state's public workers, who account for 1 in 6 employed persons in the state. Watching and taking part in the rallies and being very proud of how the protesters have conducted themselves doesn't stop me from being nervous about the entire situation. Which brings me back to the topic at hand.

When I get stressed, I bake. Sometimes it's a cake. Other times, it's cookies. Sometimes it's a pie. There's something about baking that calms me and makes me feel better about the world. And, in this case, gives me something yummy to share with people facing cold Wisconsin weather to have their voices heard. I think it's a win-win.

So today, I used part of a green pumpkin (yeah, it was actually green) that a friend gave to me to make pumpkin bars. There are few things I could make that would more qualify as comfort food than pumpkin bars, I think. Then, after the bars had cooled and my home smelled absolutely fabulous, I made a nice batch of cream cheese frosting and gave them a generous slathering. They should make a great dessert tonight and the rest will find their way downtown. It's a great way for me to smile a little more.

Classic Pumpkin Bars

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 c. pureed pumpkin
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 2 c. confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars after frosting. To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.
  • Yields: 24 bars
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

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