Last week I wanted to bake something for my friend’s 40th birthday. I didn’t want to go the chocolate route since I knew she’d probably get a ton of chocolates as gifts. She, like me, loves the sour so I knew that these cranberry lemon squares were the way to go. Plus, they looked quite pretty packaged into the mint green vintage tin I had picked up from the thrift store!
I rarely make squares because I always think they’ve got too many steps – base + a filling and then put it together? I know, I’m a total wuss. The thing is, these squares are a cinch to prepare. The shortbread base is quite simple and made even more so using the food processor that my dad bought me for Christmas (yes, it’s my very first food processor – not counting the one Cornelius bought me for my birthday years ago and I made him return because I didn’t want the hassle). But don’t worry if your processor-less – it’s pretty easy to do without.
These are versatile squares too. If you don’t have cranberries, I think these would as good with frozen blueberries, raspberries or cherries. Chopped nectarines and peaches would also be wonderful come summertime. Orange zest would provide a different zing.
The sweetness in the filling can most certainly be upped – but I really liked the tart filling as it was. Even my husband who has more of a sweet tooth couldn’t get enough. In fact, once I had my friend’s tin packaged up, my husband happily ate the leftovers, saving me just one small square. Oh well, I can’t bemoan a loved square.
elsewhere: Looking for a wholesome pancake brunch? Check out my 10 grain pancakes over at Poppytalk. And remember those awesome biscuits I made a while back – I learn more about the mystery ingredient cream of tartar. Find out more at ReadyMade!
cranberry lemon squares
(adapted from Kitchen Culinaire)
3 c flour
1 t baking powder
1 c white sugar
1/4 t kosher salt
zest of 1 large lemon
8 ounces cold butter, cubed
1 large egg
1 t vanilla
2 T – 1/4 c of cold water
2 1/2 c frozen cranberries
1/2 c + 2 T white sugar
juice from 1 large lemon
2 T corn starch
Preheat oven to 375F. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest. Add the butter and use your hands or a food processor to crumble the dough into small pieces. Move crumbles to a mixer and add in the egg and vanilla. Stir to combine, adding in water 1 tablespoon at a time – I only used 2 spoonfuls, but use up to 1/4 cup to help your dough come together. Press half of the dough into a buttered 9×13″ pan and set aside the remaining dough for the topping.
In a medium bowl, mix the filling ingredients until combined. Top with the cranberry filling and crumble the remaining dough over top . Bake for 35 minutes or until the top and sides are golden. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 20-24 bars.