It seemed like a good idea at the time: I thought it would be nice to post a recipe that I remembered from my childhood. Dream Cake –a recipe for what my mother and grandmother called ‘squares’– has strong associations with Christmas.
I inherited my mother’s first cookbook some time ago.
It was her only cookbook until the mid-1960s, and was heavily used around Christmas-time. My father even used it when preparing the roast turkey and stuffing.
I have made Dream Cake before –successfully– from a recipe found in The Uncommon Cook Book, published as a fundraiser for the Art Gallery of Windsor (Ontario) in 1980. However, I thought it would be fun to return to the recipe my mother used. I followed the instructions exactly as written.
Don’t try it! The cake was obviously raw after the recommended cooking time so I gave it ten more minutes. It sank in the middle as it cooled, apparently still under-cooked, but I had not expected it to be still quite liquid in the centre when I cut into it.
Fortunately I had lined the pan with parchment before putting in the cake ingredients. (I don’t like cutting in my non-stick pan.) I was able to transfer the cut cake on its parchment to a cookie sheet and bake it for a further 15 minutes at 350ºF. While darker on the edges than ideal, it was now cooked through and quite tasty.
If you want to make Dream Cake Squares, here’s the recipe I recommend from The Uncommon Cook Book.
I have made some pencilled changes in the book. I have made other changes as well when baking this, using golden (yellow) sugar for brown, substituting chopped pistachios for pecans or walnuts, using 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, and replacing the cherries/pineapple with 1/3 cup dried cranberries. (Hardly any changes at all.)
Cook’s tip: The mixture for the shortcrust base will look like coarse sand when it is properly mixed. I spread the mixture in the pan, level it, then pat gently into place.
If you are serving these square with an assortment of other Christmas cookies, the one inch squares are fine. If the Dream Cake is served on its own, two inch squares are better.