Baking is therapeutic for many reasons, and I don’t just mean eating when it’s done. Something about the act of creating something from scratch is so rewarding, especially when you are rolling up your sleeves and getting messy like I did this Labor Day Weekend.
In true holiday spirit, after a few days of celebrating with friends, I spent Sunday afternoon at home trying out this new recipe from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. I first fell in love with Magnolia Bakery in New York City many years ago when I waited in a line around the block for a single Red Velvet Cupcake, per the suggestion of every New York native and resident I knew. Since the first bite, I have made a point to stop at Magnolia every time I am in the city and thoroughly enjoy a single cupcake with a tall glass of milk.
That is why, when my mom gifted me with the namesake cookbook, I was beyond thrilled to try out all the various delicacies I thought I only dreamt of. Magnolia, although world renowned for their cupcakes, has a long list of other sought after goodies I didn’t even know existed at Magnolia. In Labor Day fashion, I went with a bar recipe that would please taste buds who preferred summer or fall flavors. With the weather in such high spirits, I opted for summer first. Raspberry Crunch Squares are the name, and they are great as a breakfast pastry or a dessert.
I don’t know if its because I used a different baking dish than the recipe called for (this has been adjusted in the recipe to reflect the way I made them), but it makes a lot more flour than you will need. For the purposes of giving credit where it is deserved, I have included the recipe’s ingredients and measurements as they are. However, I recommend cutting the flour in half for both the crust and the crumbs, and to start with 3 sticks of butter for each before using the fourth (depends if you like a lotta butta or not).
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups raspberry preserves, beaten until smooth (any other preserves will work too)
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups unpacked light brown sugar
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened & cut into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Make the crust: In a (very) large bowl, combine the melted butter with the flour until you get a dough like consistency. I just used my hands, it makes for the ideal texture.
- Spread crust evenly into an ungreased 13 x 9 glass Pyrex. Use a large piece of wax paper to firmly and evenly press down crust (I went bare handed for lack of supplies). Bake crust for 15 minutes, then remove from over to let cool completely – about 30 or 40 mins.
- While crust is cooling, prepare the topping: Mix the flour and brown sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- When the crust has cooled, gently and evenly spread the raspberry preserves over the crust, leaving a 1/4 inch of edge all around. Sprinkle crumbs GENEROUSLY over the preserves (more than you think you need).
- Bake for an additional 15-18 minutes until golden brown.
- Allow to cool to room temperature by sitting overnight before cutting and serving.
- Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or as an accompaniment to coffee.