Today (and probably tomorrow as well), Misha and I are confined to our apartment as Hurricane Irene bears down on Baltimore.  We had planned to be at a barbeque in PA this weekend, but alas the weather had other ideas.  The upside is some much needed rest and downtime after a long and tiring week.

Me and Misha on the overlook cliff at Harper's Ferry

On Tuesday we went on a hike in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.  Our hike was fun and the day was beautiful, and I ended up spending all the energy I had for the week, leaving me a bit sluggish for my three opening shifts at work.  We also found out this week that due to a huge maintenance problem in our apartment, we are going to have to move into the apartment next door in two weeks.  I will be happy to have a new, clean apartment with no maintenance issues, but moving is always stressful and now we have to do some packing.  I am almost relieved to be stuck inside, reading and relaxing and catching up on my blog posts!

Raspberry jam spread over the dough

I made these raspberry squares about a week and a half ago, and have been so busy that I am just now getting around to sharing them with you.  They are basically the same dough as kifli, just rolled flat, topped with criss-cross pieces, and cut into bars.  It’s wonderful how the same recipe can take on such a different feel and attitude just by cutting and shaping it differently.  They also have a very satisfying amount of jam on them, and are just as wonderful for breakfast as they are for dessert.

Ready to go in the oven

Fresh out of the oven, beautiful and golden brown!

When I made them, the dough got very, very sticky.  If it does this for you, do not be concerned.  It will be sticky and messy, but they turn out perfectly buttery and flaky.  The best part for me was that I got to use our homemade raspberry jam for the filling.  Of course that being said, any jam will do, so long as it is sweet and tasty to your liking!  Grandma called this recipe “Raspberry Squares (or Lekvaros)”.  Lekvar is a Hungarian word referring to thick fruit butter, and Grandma uses it to refer to all jams and fruit purees used in her recipes.  I think it would be interesting to try making these with apple butter- considering how much real butter is in them, I’m sure it would be very decadent!  Remember, if you make any of the recipes I share with you here, feel free to share pictures and stories, or any tips or questions you have along the way.

Dusting with powdered sugar

The wind is starting to pick up here, and I’m off to let my computer charge (in case the power goes!) and read for awhile.  Hopefully the hurricane is not hitting wherever you are, but if it is, stay safe!  (If not, bake!)

Raspberry Squares  (or Lekvaros)

3 cups sifted flour

2 tsps. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup unsalted butter

2 eggs, beaten

¼ cup milk

2 cups raspberry jam or other jams (Lekvar)

½ cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Powdered sugar

Measure and mix together in large bowl the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in shortening using a pastry cutter (a fork or your fingers would also work).  Mix the beaten eggs with the milk, and then add to the flour mixture.  Knead into a soft dough.  If the eggs are small, more milk may be needed (be careful here if your butter is not soft yet- I thought I needed a bit more milk, but once my butter warmed my dough got sticky).

Once you have a soft dough, set aside about ¼ of the dough.  Roll out the rest and spread evenly in a large pan (I used a glass 9 x 11 pyrex pan), using a spatula to help if necessary.  Press dough well up along edges of the pan so that there will be an edge of dough all around.  Spread on the jam, sprinkle on the nuts.

Pinch off pieces of the reserved dough and roll with your hands on a lightly floured board into strips ½ inch wide.  You will want to make them varying lengths depending on which section of the pan you are laying them across.  Place them on top of the jam, crisscrossing, about 1 ½ inches apart.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Slice into squares with a very sharp knife and serve.  Store in an airtight container.

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