Reading Mrs. C. Stein’s recipe for Walnut Squares in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book reminded me of what I consider church supper squares. I decided it was time to try the recipe.
I creamed butter and brown sugar together, and then added the eggs and milk. Finally I mixed in the baking powder and flour. I wasn’t sure what sort of pan to use but based on the amount of dough, I selected a smaller cookie sheet. It was difficult to spread out the dough evenly but once it was ready, I put it in the oven at 350 degrees F. How long to bake the walnut squares? I started checking them after 15 minutes. At that point the top was a nice golden brown so I took them out and let the pan cool. I mixed up 2 cups of icing sugar with a 1/4 cup of hot water. My intention was to make a sort of glaze for the top. Next I cracked walnuts and broke the meat into small pieces to scatter on top of the glaze. Then it was time to cut it into squares.
The result was not what I was expecting but it tasted good. The base is more cake like than I expected so it has a light taste. This is a quick and easy recipe (except for cracking the walnuts). A modern cook can choose to use ready chopped walnuts, or perhaps try sprinkling another sort of topping. There are hints of brown sugar in the base so the walnuts are a good complement but other sorts of nuts or even dried cranberries might be nice. The recipe is a bit vague about topping the squares so I guessed at a glaze style of icing. A thicker icing would work for these squares too and icing alone would be nice.
Based on the 1901 census, I think Mrs. C. Stein is Augusta Frost who was born in Germany. She came to Canada when she was just a year old. Her husband’s name is Christian and they have a 10-year-old daughter Erma. He works as a bookkeeper and later as a liquor dealer. By 1911, Augusta’s widowed brother Hermann and his 7-year-old daughter Margaret are living with them too. Margaret’s mother appears to have died when she was born. Herman works as an upholsterer in a furniture factory and the entire family are Lutheran. The name of their street is difficult to read on the census but it looks something like Alma and they appear to live next door to the Merners.
I picture Mrs. C. Stein making these squares for her daughter and later for her niece. If the glaze or icing sets well they could also be served for tea. Right now they are too sticky to suit a ladies tea. This dessert time travels well from 1912 to 2012!
1 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup sweet milk, 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder. Bake in a long pan when cold cut in squares. Ice with confectioner’s sugar and sprinkle thickly with chopped walnuts.