I’ve had Paris on my mind of late.
I suspect part of it is that I recently finished reading this lovely book. Not to mention that I kept seeing this other pretty little tome pop up all over the food blog world (who wouldn’t want to go to Paris after seeing that?).
But part of it also the desire for a bit of escape.
It’s been a tough month and as is often my way, I look to my cookbooks for relief.
This month, my eyes fell on Paris Boulangerie-Patisserie. I’ve had this book for quite awhile and, from time to time, have perused its pages wondering wistfully when I will be able to visit LenÃ´tre and Dalloyau, among others.
In the meantime, though, I have set my mind to baking.
I am of the belief that the truly simple things are the ones that do your heart good. And while there are those that would argue that butter and sugar may not be the most heart-friendly things in the world, I believe that something that comes out of the warmth of your oven does far more good than bad, no matter what.
I saw a recipe for these lovely jam squares and my heart immediately said, “Make them!”
Adapted from Paris Boulangerie-Patisserie by Linda Dannenberg.
Note: The original recipe for these squares is called CarrÃ©s aux Framboises (Raspberry Squares). I had to do some work on the dough part of this recipe as I could not get it to come together nicely for me. But after a few tweaks, I ended up with a gorgeous dough that’s a cross between a pie dough and a shortbread dough. You can use any sort of jam to fill the squares.
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sliced blanched or natural almonds (the original recipe uses blanched almonds but I used sliced, natural almonds as I preferred the texture)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2-1/2 sticks (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
a glass of ice water (you may need it to moisten the dough)
1 to 1-1/2 cups of thick jam (whatever jam you prefer)
1 large egg, lightly beaten with a tablespoon of water (this is for the egg wash)
coarse sugar (optional)
Place 1 cup of the flour and the 1/2 cup of the almonds in the bowl of the food processor. Process until the almonds are finely chopped and you have a powdery mixture.
Add the remainder of the flour and the sugar to your mixture and pulse several times to combine.
Add the beaten egg, vanilla extract and the softened butter and pulse 15 to 20 times (or until your dough comes together around the blade). If your dough doesn’t come together, drizzle in a few tablespoons of ice water. The dough should come together nicely and should not be powdery or floury.
Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and gather into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for half an hour.
While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. The original recipe calls for a 10-1/2 x 15-1/2-inch jelly roll pan but you can use any size you have. If you have smaller pans, then make two sets of squares.
When the dough has chilled, divide it in half and roll out the first half into a rectangle that is about an eighth of an inch thick (you can make it slightly thicker). Carefully transfer your rectangle of dough to your lined baking sheet.
Spread the jam over the rolled out dough, leaving a two-inch border all the way around.
Roll out the second half of the dough to a slightly smaller size. Lightly brush egg wash over the border on the first half of the dough and then top with the second piece of rolled out dough. Working from one end, fold the bottom part of the dough up over the top half. Then press down with a fork all the way around to seal the border to ensure that the jam doesn’t escape.
Brush the top of the dough with more egg wash and prick with a fork to create some holes to allow the steam to escape. Sprinkle on coarse sugar if you like.
Bake for 35 minutes. The dough should be golden and baked through.
Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool before slicing into squares.