Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Tinkering With A Classic
Growing up in my house there were these hallowed pastries called raisin squares that my mom made every Christmas and for special people's birthdays... They are basically two layers of my mom's perfect flaky pie crust with a filling of gooey raisiny goodness inbetween. For people who don't like raisins, and that's a lot of people, they sound scary, but I assure you that raisin squares are, for lack of a better word, awesome. They are also a vehicle for the delivery of two layers of delicious pie crust.
I invited my mom over on Sunday to teach me the special techniques of rolling out dough for raisin squares, which is much more of an undertaking than rolling out dough for pies. First off, you need to cover the entire surface of a jelly roll tin, which is pretty big. Secondly, you need to create a perfect rectangle. Thirdly, you then have to roll up the dough and position it ever so delicately in just the right spot on the jelly roll tin. Then you fill the tin with delicious fruit, and repeat the nerve wrecking dough process for the top layer. My heart is racing just thinking about it.
But it actually went really well. My mom said she was impressed by my first efforts; she cried the first time she made them. I can say I was very lucky to have such a good teacher, and I also have years of pie making experience under my belt.
While I was busy rolling and worrying, my mom was working on a new filling for the squares. Remember I mentioned that pop up shop in Asbury Park? Well my friend and I have parlayed it into a one day joint venture at the Annex on Saturday, March 5th. (Be there or be square — there will be many more posts forthcoming with reasons why you shouldn't miss it.) Anyway I am well aware that when presented with a table of cookies, cupcakes, and brownies, raisin squares will not sound very enticing to strangers, strangers who would otherwise go gaga over the family pie crust recipe. So my mom and I adapted an apple cranberry filling for square purposes. And the results are DELICIOUS!
I realize that some people may not be very into cranberries, either, but they are really there as a secondary flavor, to give a kick to the apples. Also, may I add that I friggin' LOVE cranberries, and I refuse to further kowtow to people's unadventurous palates. I for one am the Queen of Tarts in all senses, so I wave the cranberry flag proudly. And for all those not in favor, buy yourself a salted fudge brownie and just know that you are missing out.