Saturday, May 21, 2016

Aunt Leah's Raspberry Squares

The Cake Slice Bakers are still baking from Maida Heatter's Cakes and this is another keeper recipe. Our choices this month included a tunnel-of-fudge cake called Big Daddy's Cake, a chocolate sponge cake rolled around a whipped cream filling, a light honey infused Marmalade Gingerbread and this wonderful raspberry recipe. It was hard to choose and I dithered (to use Sweetie's phrase) from Big Daddy to Gingerbread to Raspberry Squares. The cake roll was out because I couldn't figure out a way to do it without dairy and still keep to the spirit of the recipe.

I finally chose this recipe because I love Raspberries and I was curious to see if the yeast made any difference in the recipe. Any recipe with so much fat severely reduces the ability of the yeasts to thrive. As it turned out the yeast made it just a nice bit puffier than a regular pastry and added just the right amount of yeast flavor to enhance the buttery pastry flavor and to offset the sweetness of the raspberry filling.

As usual I made a few changes. The first one was involuntary. I was starting the dough and had proofed the yeast when I discovered that I had a tiny amount of flour in my canister and I needed sugar, too. My solution was to add 1/2 cup flour to the water and yeast and let that sit overnight in the fridge, covered. In the morning I went shopping, then made the dough using a food processor and well chilled margarine instead of butter. I used soy creamer, unflavored, instead of the milk. I let the dough sit, covered, on the counter at room temperature for about an hour, then put it into the fridge for 8 hours. In the evening I followed most of the rest of the recipe and baked it.

The only other change was the filling. Because I don't like raspberry seeds in a fine pastry like this, I sprang for the more expensive seedless jam. Because I had three limes but no lemons on hand, I grated lime zest over the bottom of the pastry, spread on the loosened jam, then, because I couldn't find my blanched almonds (one of the perils of baking at night when my brain is not as sharp as one might wish) I scattered 1/2 cup sliced almonds over the jam.

 I also reduced the number and spacing of pastry strips for the top layer...getting tired...but I made sure to keep a viable pattern of pastry.

The result was wonderful! Tender golden pastry encased the jam filling. The pastry is not sweet but it is delicious. Sweetie ate what was left raw and liked that, too. The jam is so sweet that I left off any confectioners' sugar decoration. A lovely dessert for a Friday evening! You should try it!

Aunt Leah's Raspberry Squares
from Maida Heatter's Cakes

1/4 cup barely warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter (I used dairy-free margarine)
1 egg
1/2 cup evaporated milk (I used unflavored soy creamer)
Confectioners' sugar for decor (I skipped this)

1 pound (1 1/2 cups) thick raspberry preserves
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon (or use a lime as I did)
2 1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) blanched almonds, chopped into medium size pieces (or use sliced almonds as I did)

For the Pastry:
In a small bowl add the warm water and yeast. Stir with a fork. Set aside.

Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. With a pastry blender cut in the butter until the particles are fine and the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Beat the egg and the milk just to mix, and add, along with the yeast, to the dry ingredients. Stir thoroughly to mix.

(The above steps from mixing the dry ingredients to mixing in the liquids and yeast, may all be done in a food processor as I did.)

Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover airtight, and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil or butter a 10 x 15 x 1-inch jelly-roll pan. It should not be a non-stick pan.

Flour a work surface and rolling pin. Turn the dough out onto the work surface, form it into a ball, and cut it in half. Set aside one of the pieces. I put it back into the bowl.

Shape the other piece into a rectangle, flouring the dough, work surface and your hands/rolling pin as you go as necessary. Roll the dough out to measure 12 x 17 inches. keeping the corners as square as you can and the sides as straight as you can. Loosely drape the rolled out dough over the rolling pin and transfer it to the buttered jelly-roll pan. With a small, sharp knife, trim the sides of the dough even with the top of the pan.

Sprinkle the citrus zest over the dough in the pan. Loosen the raspberry preserves with a fork and then spread that over the dough. Go all the way to the all the edges. I used a small offset spatula and that really worked well. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds. Set aside.

Flour the remaining dough and work surface and rolling pin and form it into a rectangle, rolled out to 10 x 15 inches. No need to be as perfect about straight sides or corners with this one.

With a zigzag or plain pastry wheel or pizza cutter, slice this rolled out dough into lengthwise strips 1/2 inch wide. Place half the strips on a diagonal about 1/2-inch apart over the filling, pinching them off level with the rim of the pan. Place the rest of the strips crisscrossing in the opposite direction, forming a lattice or diamond design, pinching off the ends here, too.

With your fingers, fold over the dough around the edges. Fold it in toward the center to form a border about 1/2 inch wide all around. With a fork, press down on it lightly to seal.

Without waiting for the dough to rise, place the pan in the oven and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until nicely colored.

Cool in the pan.

With a sharp, small knife cut the cake into squares and transfer them to wax paper with a wide metal flexible spatula. Sprinkle confectioners' sugar through a fine strainer to decorate, if desired.

These may be frozen.


  1. I really want to make these now! They look beautiful and sound delicious!

  2. These look delicious. I did wonder about the yeast too, as with such an enriched dough it was going to have to work hard, but it worked. Would make them again.

  3. Despite all your changes to the recipe I can imagine they taste as good as they look. Great job!!

  4. I'm glad you had a successful bake! Loved the recipe as well, and will be one I make more often!

  5. It's so pretty. I'm not a raspberry fan. I wonder how it would work with strawberry or blueberry. The yeast scared me off of this recipe, but if it doesn't have to rise, maybe I could make it work.

  6. A good looking variation on this recipe! Maybe homemade jam (hence sugar-controlled?) would work better for us older bakers!

  7. Thanks for all of your great comments! These ARE delicious and I do plan on making them again. Homemade jam would be great and I might do that when the berries are ripe (blackberries). I think it would work well with almost any jam. It was really easy and not a typical yeast recipe. I think it would be difficult to mess it up as long as you keep all the ingredients (except for the butter which should be cold, cold, cold!) at room temperature, even the water for the yeast. Too much heat is usually the problem for yeast recipes that don't work.

  8. oh yes!! this look great and i am also not a fan of raspberry seeds in the jam!! Great job!