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the weekend baking philosophy

Right when you think you’ve got it all figured out, and you start packing away your summer gear and whipping out the fleece blankets, BAAM! In comes 90 degree weather again. That mother nature, she is tricky gal.

Since the weather is playing tricks on me, I figured I’d go with the flow and bake up something that reminds me of summer. Ah yes, the good ole days when I would read all day, venture out for a drink with friends, and sleep in till 10 a.m. Now, my days are filled with rushing to and from school, trying to keep my cool in traffic, and attempting to catch up on all that reading I should’ve done for class.

Knowing that our sunny days are going to be gone soon, I’m savoring the sunny days for as long as I can. Pretty soon, the days will get dark at 5:30 p.m. and walking around in the warm evenings will be a dangerous adventure for us gals. Don’t even get me started on running to and from class in the rain. It’s the worst!
In my final and SERIOUS last attempt to say goodbye to summer, I baked these lemon poppy seed squares. Bright yellow with pops of lemon flavor and crunchy poppy seeds, these little squares will brighten your day right up. Normally I connotate squares with crispy thin bars, but these squares baked fluffy and moist. I would venture to say they are more cake-like than anything else. I think drizzling a little honey or making a buttermilk glaze might be a good topping idea.

You could also play around with the flavors in this recipe. Don’t like lemon? Try lime. It might sucker punch your taste buds, but it could be really interesting. Like a margarita, but in cake-form! Or you could try the naturalistic route and use maple syrup with some dried fruit. Really, the possibilities are endless.
I don’t know if I mentioned how much I enjoy Abigail Dodge Johnson’s The Weekend Baker, but I seriously can’t get enough of this book. I first learned of this book by way of one of my favorite blogs, Pittsburgh Needs Eated. Lots of recipes and enticing photos lured me in and I grabbed this book off the library rack. It’s chockfull of various recipes and time-saving techniques. Who knew I could make these lemon poppy seed squares in less than 25 minutes? But I did! I’m like the baking version of Rachael Ray, minus the raspy voice and uber peppiness.

Anyways, the way it’s broken up in to time-saving sections is very helpful to those of us who have to balance our time in the kitchen with other boring responsibilities. I wish I could be a full time baker with oodles of hours devoted to yeasty breads and cakes, but alas I am more like the weekend/part-baker who dabbles here and there. I think my repertoire is growing though, as I am known as the crazy-girl-who-likes-to-give-yummy-food-away at work now. Hey, it could be worse I guess!

Lemon Poppy Seed Squares
Origin: The Weekend Baker from Abigail Johnson Dodge
Yield: Nine 2-inch squares
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 to 33 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

● 2 tbsp poppy seeds
● 1/2 cup buttermilk
● 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
● 3/4 tsp baking powder
● 1/4 tsp baking soda
● 1/4 tsp salt
● 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
● 1 cup granulated sugar
● 3/4 tsp pure lemon extract
● 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
● 2 large eggs

Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350℉. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish.

Stir in the poppy seeds in to the buttermilk and set aside to soften.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until well blended. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and lemon and vanilla extracts. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Using a rubber spatula, fold in half of the flour mixture just until blended. Gently stir in the buttermilk and poppy seeds. Add the remaining flour and fold just until blended.

Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread it evenly. Bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 33 minutes. Transfer the baking dish to a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into 2-inch squares.

Wrap the uncut, cooled squares in plastic wrap, and store at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

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October 10, 2008 - 6:13 am

C&C - What IS this tricky weather in Nor Cal up to? I wish it would rain already, I want to make soup and watch B&W movies by the fire… This recipe looks deelish and I bet the lemon is perfect. Nice job!

October 10, 2008 - 9:39 am

Patricia Scarpin - Oh, these are insanely tender, Amanda! And gorgeous photos.
I only bake on the weekends, so this is my “philosophy”. :)

October 10, 2008 - 11:24 am

liz2024 - Nothing better than being known as the crazy girl who likes to give away sweets!


October 11, 2008 - 3:54 am

chocolate shavings - Those look delicious! I just bought a bag of poppy seeds and this would be a great way to use some of them – thanks!

October 11, 2008 - 6:22 am

Robin - Ohmigosh! Love the new site look. So clean!

October 12, 2008 - 7:31 am

Megan - this look absolutely delicious. i might have to take your advice and make a lemon zest glaze for this one :) love the new layout as well!

October 12, 2008 - 9:50 am

Tiffany - i love baking on the weekends–particularly a saturday morning while the house is still quiet. the bars look delicious and the pictures, beautiful!

March 16, 2010 - 8:49 pm

Return to Normalcy « Slow Like Honey - [...] To capitalize on the fresh lemon produce at the market, I decided to find the ripest lemons around and infuse their flavor into this cake. Lemon and I are buddies, and I’ve had great experiences with this tart ingredient (see lemon buttermilk cupcakes, lemon cream tart, and lemon poppy seed squares). [...]

March 30, 2010 - 5:43 am

Spring break + recipes « Slow Like Honey - [...] Jam Cake Buttermilk Cookies Carrot Tea Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Lemon Curd Tartlets Lemon Poppy Seed Cake Orange Berry Muffins Sour Cream Raspberry Swirl [...]

December 12, 2011 - 10:40 am

Cookbooks I Love: The Weekend Baker :: Pork Cracklins - [...] Lemon Poppy Seed Squares: I’m not sure why these haven’t come out of my kitchen yet – lemon and poppyseed are a favorite in this house. [...]

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