Thursday, May 5, 2011

World War II Raisin Squares

This is, according to Maida, also called Depression Cake, which rather matched my mood when I made them a couple of weeks ago. I've been busy and overwhelmed--busy with extra teaching and extra editing--and overwhelmed with that sense of "what the heck am I doing here?" So although I had no time to bake, I made time because it's my time in the kitchen that makes sense to me.

But it wasn't just the name that made these the perfect thing to make. They're quick and easy, they make the kitchen smell great, and they keep a long time, making them a great snack after a long day at work. Alicia would probably despise them (unless she made them with some dried fruit or nut mix), but I bet my dad would love these, given his penchant for spice cake and applesauce cookies--and raisins.

Here's the recipe. Make them when you need a little something to pick you up.

World War II Raisin Squares

1-1/2 c. (8 oz.) raisins (I used a mixture of dark and golden)
2-1/2 c. (20 oz.) water
1/3 c. + 1 T. (3 oz. more or less) oil (or melted butter)
3/4 c. (5.25 oz.) sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 c. (4 oz.) sifted flour
1 c. (4.5 oz.) sifted whole wheat flour
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. allspice
1 t. cloves
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. salt
1 T. cocoa powder
1 T. espresso/coffee powder
Grated rind of 1 lemon

Heat the oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch square pan, which you should line with foil or parchment should you plan to unmold the cake/cookies in one piece. I'm not fancy enough for that.
Put the raisins and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer, partially covered, for 15-20 minutes. This step is important even if you have nice, plump raisins, so don't skip it. Drain the raisins, saving 1 c. of the liquid for later use.
Put the water in a large bowl and add the oil/butter, sugar, and baking soda to it. The soda will fizz and dissolve, which is a nice touch. In another bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, salt, cocoa, and espresso. Add the flour mixture to the water mixture and stir well. Add the lemon rind and the drained raisins.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top springs back when touched. Cool in the pan; if you're going to unmold the cake, do it after about 10-15 minutes of cooling. Otherwise, let cool completely and cut into squares. Enjoy the homey taste.

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