Sunday, March 6, 2016
"The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game."
- from "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
I always love this time of year. Nothing feels like new beginnings more than spring training, when baseball players report to their respective camps. It's a time of innocence and of hope, when every team still has a chance of winning. I remember the first time I went to spring training, and was amazed by how close the fans got to the field, and how much fun the players were having.
After the Blue Jays had their first meaningful October in her lifetime, my youngest daughter is passionately following their spring training exploits, periodically texting me to say, "Pompey walks!" or "Goins 2 run triple ties in bottom of fourth!" (One hopes these updates are interspersed between intense rounds of essay-writing.)
Today's recipe is for apple walnut squares, a recipe that started out as a cake but works perfectly as squares to take to church or book club. And the outcome is extremely brilliant for these lovely squares, even if that church or book club is located in Mudville.
Apple Walnut Squares
(adapted from Epicurious)
1 Tbsp unsalted butter (first amount)
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 medium Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature (second amount)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 cup dried currants
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Melt 1 Tbsp butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add all apples; cover and simmer until apples are juicy and almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes. Uncover and simmer until almost all juices evaporate, about 6 minutes. Using potato masher, mash apples in pan. Cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and butter and flour a 9" x 13" baking dish. Whisk flour and next 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat remaining 3/4 cup butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Stir in flour mixture, then all of apple mixture, then remaining flour mixture. Mix in 1 cup toasted walnuts and currants.
Pour batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until tester inserted into centre comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Cool on racks for 5 minutes, then turn out and let cool completely before icing.
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, cinnamon and vanilla, and beat to blend.
Spread icing on cooled squares. Chill until icing sets before cutting into squares.