Secrets for Successfull Bars and Brownies

Use butter, stick margarine (with at least 80% oil) or shortening. Whipped, tub, soft, liquid or reduced-fat products contain air and water and will produce flat, tough bars or brownies.

Measure ingredients accurately, using the measuring tools and techniques suggested on pages 7 and 8.

Avoid overmixing the batter. If it's handled too much, the gluten in the flour will be developed and the bars or brownies will be tough.

Use dull aluminum baking pans or glass dishes. Dark-colored pans may cause overbrowning.

Grease the pan with shortening or coat with nonstick cooking spray.

To easily remove bars and brownies from a pan, line the bottom of the pan with foil, then grease. Add the batter and bake as directed. (see Lining a Baking Pan with Foil.)

Preheat oven for 10 to 15 minutes before baking.

It's important to evenly spread batter in the pan. If one corner is thinner than another, it will bake faster and be overbaked when the rest of the pan is done.

Center the pan in the middle of the oven.

Use a kitchen timer. Check bars when the minimum baking time has been reached, baking longer if needed. Follow doneness tests given in individual recipes.

Generally, bars and brownies should cool completely on a wire rack before being cut. However, crisp bars should be cut while still slightly warm.