THIS week we have two recipes in response to a request for an old-fashioned British walnut slice. Thanks to Carol Koslowsky and Linda Snider and to Shelley Finnen, who sent in a recipe made by her mother and grandmother that dates back to the 1920s.
Larissa Romaniuk from Stonewall would love a recipe for coconut cream pie like the one made at Rae & Jerry's, that reassuringly unchanging Winnipeg institution. Susan McLaren is looking for a recipe for sweet cherry muffins: She thinks it might be from Madame Benoit, who was Canada's television cook long before the Food Network days. Lorraine Fotheringham is really hoping that someone has a recipe for Thai noodle salad like they make at Vic's Fruit Market. And while I was looking into walnut slices, I came across references to a favourite English cake, a coffee-walnut sponge with coffee buttercream icing. I'd love a trusty recipe for that. If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
310 ml (1 1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
60 ml (1/4 cup) brown sugar
114g (1/2 cup) butter, chilled
2 egg whites
310 ml (1 1/4 cups) brown sugar
2 ml (1/2 tsp) baking powder
30 ml (2 tbsp) flour
125 ml (1/2 cup) coconut
250 ml (1 cup) walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 190C (375F). Grease a shallow 20x30 cm (8x12 in) pan. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and sugar. Cut in butter and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Pat evenly into pan. Bake until mixture starts to brown lightly at edges, about 12-14 minutes. Cool until lukewarm. Lower oven heat to 160C (325F). Meanwhile, make topping: In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, baking powder, flour, coconut and walnuts. Fold gently into egg white mixture and then spread evenly over crust. Bake until top is just set and beginning to brown, about 20-25 minutes, watching carefully. Cut while still warm into finger-sized slices, making sure to cut around the perimeter of the pan, then allow mixture to cool completely in pan before cutting again and removing slices. Will keep well in an airtight container.
Tester's notes: A deliciously rich and sweet pastry-like bar. I've seen walnut slice recipes that call for icing, but I think that would be overkill. It's interesting that we had a letter last month talking about the frustration of pan sizes. Many older recipes call for an 8x12-inch pan, while today's standard tends to be 9x13. I have seen a recipe with very similar ingredients and quantities that calls for a 9x9 pan, and in this case it's probably better to go smaller than bigger. When making the topping, be sure to mix the dry ingredients very well, getting any lumps out of the brown sugar before adding to the beaten egg whites. Shelley suggests you watch closely as the slice bakes: "Don't overcook or it becomes rock hard in a day or two."
Caramel walnut slice
200 g (3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp) butter, softened
250 ml (1 cup) white sugar
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla
625 ml (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
5 ml (1 tsp) baking powder
100 g (7 tbsp) butter
30 ml (2 tbsp) golden syrup
1x 300 ml (1 x14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
250 ml (1 cup) walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 175C (350F). In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder, and then fold into butter mixture. Press into 20x30cm (8x12 in) pan, keeping aside 30 ml (2 tbsp) for topping. To make topping: Melt butter and golden syrup (in microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat). Stir in condensed milk and then spread evenly over base. Mix together reserved pastry base and walnuts and sprinkle over topping. Bake 25-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cut around the edges of the pan and cut into small pieces while still warm, and then let cool completely in pan before cutting again and removing.
Tester's notes: Make sure to cut into very small pieces because the sweetened condensed milk makes this treat almost like candy. I might increase the quantity of walnuts and cut back on the amount of butter in the topping.