I think I found my Christmas Baking Mojo today . . . I've spent the whole day immersed in sugar and flour and eggs and Christmas Carols . . . as memories of Christmas Past played around in my head like sugar plums. Christmas has landed, and not a moment too soon!
My mother didn't bake an awful lot at Christmas time when we were growing up but we could always rely on a few things that she would bake each year . . . it was the only time we would have these baked treats, and we all looked forward to them. I plan on sharing them with you over the next few days. I am sure you all have in your main ingredients for your Christmas Lunch (dinner) and so these posts are just for fun. You may see something that may inspire you to bake an additional treat at the last minute, or you may not.
These Feather Squares are exceptional and something that if you were to ask each of us what our favourite Christmas Treat is they would be if not at the top, very close to the top of the goodie list, their only drawback being that they are not something which keeps for very long. Usually only about a day or two at the most. They are fabulous though, and it just would not have been Christmas in our home without them . . . and even today I find myself wanting to bake them sometime during the last day or two before Christmas.
Really I should keep them for baking on Christmas Eve . . . but the child in me just cannot wait to dig into them. You have a traditional plain buttery sponge cake base . . . baked until golden brown, but still moist, and then slathered all over with sweet raspberry jam . . . (Oh I do love my jam!) Then the jam layer is covered with a beautiful marshmallow-like soft meringue, and sprinkled with flaked coconut.
Banged back into the oven to brown the coconut and meringue . . . so that it looks like a field of downy feathers . . . lightly browned and covering a fluffy blanket of snow . . . covering that jammy field of cake deliciousness.
Altogether . . . quite, quite blissful . . . and festive.
It just would NOT be Christmas in our home without them. A tradition we can not give up. Hoping that you will give them a go and enjoy them as well.
*Mom's Christmas Feather Squares*
When I was growing up, I knew that when these delicious bars were in the larder, Christmas could not be too far behind. Christmas was the only time my mother made these and we certainly looked forward to seeing them every year. A moist and delicious cake type base covered with sweet raspberry preserves and a lovely meringue topped with toasted coconut on top make these holiday winners!
4 TBS butter, softened
3 large eggs, the whites and yolks carefully separated and put into two different bowls
1 cup sugar, divided (190g, in two lots of 95g each)
2 TBS milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 TBS cornstarch
1 cup flour (140g)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup raspberry preserves (4 large dessertspoonfuls)
1 cup flaked sweetened coconut (75g)
Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Lightly butter an 8 inch square baking pan and dust with flour. Set aside.
Cream together the butter and 1/2 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. sift together the flour, baking powder, cornstarch and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, mixing together until smooth. Spread this mixture into the prepared pan. Bake in the heated oven for 20 minutes, until lightly browned and the top springs back when lightly touched. Remove from the oven and immediately spread with the raspberry jam.
Beat the egg whites until foamy. Continue to beat, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar slowly until the mixture it stiff and glossy. Spread this over the top of the jam and sprinkle with the coconut. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and the coconut is toasty. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting into squares with a wet knife.