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Kitchen Mailbox: Raisin-studded treats make perfect anytime snacks

Thursday, September 30, 1999

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

A raisin is a raisin is a ... dried grape. Raisins are produced primarily from Thompson seedless grapes. The dark raisins are sun-dried for weeks, which is why they're dark and shriveled. Golden raisins are treated with sulphur dioxide to prevent darkening and dried with artificial heat, a method that leaves the raisins plumper and moister than the dark raisins.

For these recipes we used dark raisins, though golden will work.

Not only do raisins taste good, but they're good for you. Naturally sweetened, they are rich with iron.

The first recipe, Kwik-Krumb Raisin Bars from Pillsbury's "The Complete Book of Baking," was e-mailed in by Marsha S. Cuckler. It was a breeze to make -- 20 minutes tops. The raisins remained moist and they were easy to cut into bars. The recipe for Kugelhopf or Raisin Bread was shared by Jeanne Lopiloto of Bethel Park. Kugelhopf comes from the Alsace region of France (between the Rhine River and Vosges Mountains). It's a light, moist yeast bread -- we served it warm with butter. Either recipe makes a great brunch or breakfast addition or snack.

Here are some raisin tips from "Food Lover's Tiptionary" by Sharon Tyler Herbst:

Store raisins in tightly sealed plastic bag at room temperature for several months, refrigerate or freeze up to 1 year.

Raisin yields: 1 pound = 3 cups.

If you freeze raisins first, they'll be easier to chop. If raisins are clumped together, put them in a strainer and spray hot water over them or pop in the microwave. Heat on high (100 percent power) for 10 to 20 seconds.

Before you add raisins to baked goods, toss with some of the flour called for in the recipe (about 1/3 cup), separating the raisins as you do this; this will keep the raisins from sinking to the bottom of the batter.

Kwik-Krumb Raisin Bars


2 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup water
1 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Base and topping:

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup coconut
3/4 cup margarine or butter

In saucepan, bring raisins and water to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes. Drain; stir in applesauce, lemon juice and cinnamon. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, combine oats, flour, sugar and coconut. Using pastry blender or fork, cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 2 1/2 cups of crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture firmly in bottom of ungreased 13-by-9-inch pan. Spread evenly with filling. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture; press lightly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool completely. cut into bars. Makes approximately 36 bars.

Raisin Cake (Kugelhopf)

1 cup butter
5 eggs
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 package dry yeast
2 tablespoons lukewarm water
1 teaspoon lukewarm water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Beat the butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Add the flour, salt and sugar, beating constantly.

Dissolve the yeast in the water and beat into the dough, along with the vanilla and lemon extract. Stir in the raisins.

Butter a 10-inch tube pan and sprinkle the bottom with the almonds. Turn the dough into the pan, distributing it evenly. Cover and let rise until the dough almost reaches the top of pan.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Let the Kugelhopf cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Turn it out and sprinkle the top with confectioners' sugar. Cool thoroughly before slicing. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Note: You'll find Kugelhopf dough to be moist and sticky. A standing mixer with dough hooks works best with this recipe.


Mary Kay Saunders of Bovard, Pa., and her sisters remember their mother making ice cream with Jell-O and condensed milk. This recipe is from the '30s or '40s. Does anyone have this recipe?

Phylis Henke of Whitehall is not sure of the name of the recipe she is searching for, but part of the recipe requires melting sugar in a skillet and adding milk. This became a sauce, maybe caramel, that was then poured over fruit. Suggestions?

Ruth Lewis of Rostraver writes: "I'm looking for some recipes. The first is from the Kenny Rogers restaurants -- green beans made with chopped tomatoes, garlic and butter. I used to work at South Hills Village mall. There used to be a food place called The Whole Grain. They had terrific soups. I believe they were a Stouffer's restaurant or Stouffer's recipes. The recipes I'm interested in are Spicy Potato Soup and a Zucchini Corn Chowder."

Dee Jackson of McKeesport writes: "I love cold pasta dishes as well as hot. I also love crab salads, made with the imitation crab meat. I can always find recipes for hot pasta dishes, but never cold pastas or crab salads. If you would be so kind as to provide me with recipes for cold pasta salads, especially linguine salad and imitation crab salads, it would be greatly appreciated."

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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