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Recipe: Cherry Holiday Squares

February 22, 2013

Recipe for President George Washington’s Birthday and Other Holidays:

Cherry Holiday Squares

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

In my “baking days,” I made this recipe many times. The pretty squares make a great treat not only for President George Washington’s birthday and the Christmas season, but also for Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Cherry Blossom Festival, and Fourth of July or another patriotic celebration.

Despite our being aware of Washington’s chopping down a cherry tree as an American myth, perhaps, many of us still associate our first President of the United States with cherries. From the long-ago pages of a presidential biography by Parson Mason Weems and the pages of the McGuffey Reader to the pages of this blog, cherries, or the cherry tree, will (in a small and humble way) honor one of the greatest presidents of our nation.

The original recipe (by a different name which I have forgotten) was from an old cookbook comprised of recipes from postmasters. Somewhere, I still have this print cookbook because my mother was postmaster of the Blanford, Indiana, Post Office for
twenty-eight-and-a-half years. (As a result of a telephone conversation on February 22, with the current postmaster of the Blanford Post Office, I can happily confirm for my former Hoosier family and friends that the little post office in Blanford is still serving this small community of Vermillion County, located in west-central Indiana. Postmaster Melinda Silotto informed me that she keeps in the post office’s lobby a display case of memorabilia about the post office, town, and Jacksonville Grade School where I first saw, in 1956, a reprint of that famous portrait of President George Washington.)

Cherry Holiday Squares

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a “jelly roll” pan (10 inches by 15 inches).
2. Cream one cup butter with one-and-one-half cups sugar.
3. Add four eggs and beat well.
4. Blend in one teaspoon vanilla and one teaspoon almond extract. (Instead of vanilla and almond extract, the original recipe called for one tablespoon of lemon juice.)
5. Blend in two cups white flour.
6. Pour batter into well-greased “jelly roll” pan (10 inches by 15 inches).
7. Using one (15-ounce) can of cherry pie filling and imagining a grid of 20 or 24 squares on the batter, gently drop a spoonful of the cherry pie filling atop the batter so that the cherry pie filling will eventually be atop the middle of each square or rectangle which you will later cut into 20 or 24 pieces after baking.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for thirty to forty minutes. (Do not underbake! Toothpick, inserted into a portion of the cake, should come out clean.)
9. When slightly warm or when cool, the dessert may be cut into squares and/or rectangles—with the cherry filling being the center of each piece. Enjoy!
10. Cherry Holiday Squares keep well for three days, but may also be served warm.

Variations: Instead of cherry pie filling, you may try blueberry, peach, apricot, or apple pie filling.

Thanks to my sister for double-checking the recipe for me!
Happy baking!
Alice Jane-Marie Massa
February 22, 2013, Friday

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