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For those times when you need to feed a crowd dessert, few homebakers own a pan large enough to bake a cake or pie to serve everyone. It's always more convenient to bake just one item rather than mix multiple batches. Next time you want to make dessert for a large group, think about putting a 10 x 15 x 1-inch jelly roll pan to use to create not a rolled-up dessert, but a sheet of fruit bars bountiful enough for almost any gathering.
For the dessert, Pear Squares, spread a simple-to-make batter, similar to one you would use for a poundcake, in the pan, lightly score it into sixteen squares, and top each section with an artfully sliced pear quarter, and bake. When the dessert has cooled, cut into individual portions.
Apple Squares, another easy dessert for a crowd, is a sort of large, shallow apple pie. Line the jelly roll pan with flaky pastry, add a spicy apple filling and top with another pastry layer. The corn flake cereal is an interesting addition in this recipe. Though the cereal seems to disappear during baking, it absorbs liquid from the apples so the bottom crust can bake flaky and crisp.
3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup shortening
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup milk
1 cup crushed corn flakes
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
8 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced to yield 8 cups
1/4 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons butter, melted
In a large bowl, mix the flour with the salt and baking powder. Cut in the butter and shortening until the size of peas. Blend the yolk and milk together. Gradually add to the flour mixture, mixing with a fork. When the dough comes together, divide it in half. Wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Adjust rack to lower third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom of a 10 x 15 jelly roll pan. Roll out half the dough and fit into the pan. Sprinkle with corn flakes. Combine the sugars, flour, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over apples and raisins and toss to combine. Add melted butter. Again toss to combine. Arrange apple slices over corn flakes. Roll out remaining half of dough to fit the top. Place over the apples and seal edges. Make several slits on top with a paring knife to allow steam to escape. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake 30 to 40 minutes longer or until golden. Spread glaze on bars while warm. Cool slightly before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Glaze: Combine 1 cup powdered sugar with 5 teaspoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon vanilla until well blended.
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 teapoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 cup dried sweet cherries or cranberries, coarsely chopped
2 Bartlett or Anjou pears, peeled, cored and quartered lengthwise
1/3 cup strained apricot jam
Adjust rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 x 15 jelly roll pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the zest and vanilla, then the flour until thoroughly blended. Stir in the dried cherries or cranberries. Spread batter into pan.
Cut pear quarters crosswise into slices 1/8-inch thick. With fingertips, gently push slices to fan them. Using a toothpick lightly score the batter into 16 equal squares. Slip a spatula under half of each fanned quarter and place in the center of each square of batter. Bake for 25 minutes or until pale golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out free of cake. Remove to a cooling rack and while the cake is warm brush apricot jam over cake's surface. When cool cut into 16 squares.
Flo Braker has been teaching baking techniques and her sweet miniatures across the country for twenty years and is the author of several cookbooks.