I have a kitchen scale but I never use it. I love to bake, and I'm well aware that REAL bakers use scales, but I thought of them as the province of those who were toilet trained at gunpoint. So even though I bought one (with the vague notion that one day I would learn to make macarons), it has languished in the pantry ever since.
Yesterday's New York Times article about kitchen scales opened my eyes. http://www.nytimes.com... What did it was Deb of smittenkitchen's assertion that if you use a scale, every baking project can be done in one bowl with a spoon. No more multiple measuring cups littering the counter tops!
When I posted the pear almond shortbread bars, I made suggestions for making them nut-free, so I decided to post that recipe as well. I'm including weights as well as volume measurements. I prefer all purpose flour to white whole wheat in the pear filling--the white whole wheat overwhelms the pear taste in my opinion--but go with what you like.
Peel and core the pears. Cut the pears into chunks. Bring water to low boil and stir in pears, lemon juice and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, pressing on pear pieces with a potato masher until they fall apart and there are no whole pieces left. Puree the mixture with an immersion blender (or in a regular blender) until liquefied. Set aside and let cool.
Heat oven to 350. Place rack in center of oven. Line an 8X8 baking pan with foil. (You can use parchment if you prefer, but the foil makes it easier to lift the bars out of the pan once they’re cool.)
Whisk together flour, oats, spices and salt.
Cut butter into chunks and melt it in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Let it brown slightly—watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.
Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. Scoop into the flour mixture and fold gently till just until incorporated. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25- 30 minutes, or until the crust is well browned at the edges and lightly browned in the center. When the crust is ready, turn the oven down to 300 and remove the pan.
While the shortbread is baking, make the pear filling.
Stir together the salt, spices and flour in a medium bowl until well mixed. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolks, stirring well after each so that eggs are fully incorporated. (It will be a thick batter.) Pour in the pear puree and stir till well blended.
Pour the pear mixture over the shortbread and spread to an even layer.
Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the topping is slightly browned center does not jiggle when you shake it. It may still be moist. Place on a rack to cool completely in the pan. Lift the ends of the foil liner and transfer to a cutting board. Gently remove the foil from around the cookies, being careful not to break off the edges. Use a long sharp knife to cut into sixteen 2 inch bars. The bars may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.