The wonderful thing about fieldwork is that once you’ve knackered yourself out collecting all the data, you usually get to pull your hair out trying to analyse them before then attempting to write up the results into a vaguely intelligent-sounding report. About two weeks ago, my Marine Acoustics fieldwork successfully reduced me to the point of only being able to muster up just enough energy to bake apple and raisin buttermilk muffins. Having recovered from the fieldwork, it was time for some data analysis fun last Sunday with Kat and Craig. As I mentioned in my last post, we started things off with lunch, and since I live right next to the cinema, we’d been intending to follow lunch up with a film (if you’re thinking that this all sounds suspiciously like a severe case of procrastination, then you would be correct). However, the cinema plan was somewhat thwarted by a broken projector. So we had to spend our afternoon actually doing the data analysis…
Basically, we were determining the underwater transmission loss over distance of a simulated dolphin whistle played out from a speaker submerged at the end of the pier. I won’t bore you with the details, but about 2 ½ hours later, we’d calculated the transmission losses, plotted a couple of good graphs and spent a fair amount of time faffing around (making tea and faffing around were my main contributions). So with that done, we started talking about food, which rapidly progressed to looking at food porn and recipes. For some reason there was an over-abundance of snickerdoodle-themed recipes. Perhaps it was Snickerdoodle Sunday or something (I don’t know if that exists, but it should – it sounds like something out of a Dr Seuss book).
So aside from sounding fun, what exactly are snickerdoodles? Kat explained snickerdoodle cookies to us as basically a sort of soft-ish, cinnamon-y, sugary cookie with a crackled top. I think they sound totally amazing. We came across a recipe for snickerdoodle blondies that looked particularly tempting. (In case you’re wondering, blondies are basically brownies that aren’t chocolate-based.)
I’m sorry, what was that? Cinnamon sugar brownies? Uhm, hello, yes please! I was pretty sure that I had all the necessary ingredients, so the data analysis session was declared over, and we migrated to the kitchen for a baking session. It turned out that I didn’t have enough flour (Craig obligingly went on a quick supermarket run), and then it turned out that I didn’t have enough light brown sugar, either. So we just added dark sugar, and then dark brown muscovado when the dark sugar ran out, too. The end result was actually rather scrumptious, and I think the dark sugars added extra flavour to the blondies. I had a couple for breakfast the next day, spread with a bit of butter – they made for a great start to the day!
Makes about 15 squares
Recipe adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
We didn’t sift the sugars so the dark brown muscovado stayed in little clumps which actually worked out wonderfully as it resulted in little concentrations of molasses-like yumminess throughout the blondies. I used a smaller baking tin than the one specified in the original recipe, so the blondies were a lot thicker, which I really liked.
375g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
225g unsalted butter, softened
50g light brown sugar
220g soft dark brown sugar
170g dark muscovado sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Lightly butter a 19 x 25 cm dish.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a medium bowl and stir together.
3. In a large bowl, cream the softened butter and the three brown sugars together using an electric whisk on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in the vanilla. Switch the mixer to low speed and gradually add the flour mixture, until just combined. Using a spatula, ensure that any flour at the bottom of the bowl has been mixed in.
4. Scoop the batter into the baking tin, pushing it down and spreading it evenly (it’s easiest just to use your hands). Combine the granulated sugar and remaining cinnamon in a small ramekin and sprinkle it evenly over the top of the batter.
5. Bake for 25-30 mins, until the surface springs back when pressed. Remove the entire pan to a wire rack and allow to cool fully before cutting into squares.