Czech squares

Nutmeg and cinnamon cookies spread with sweet cherry jam.

  • Preparation Time40 mins
  • Cooking Time45 mins
  • DifficultyMedium

For the base

140g walnut pieces
165g caster sugar
375g plain flour
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch fine salt
180g butter, cut into small cubes and slightly chilled
5 large egg yolks
30ml brandy

For the topping

240g cherry jam
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 egg white, for brushing
1) Place a rack in the lower part of the oven and preheat to 180C/Gas 4.

For the base:

1) Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes, until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

2) Meanwhile, grease the bottom of a 23 by 32-cm baking tray and line with greaseproof paper.

3) When the walnuts are cool, transfer them to a food processor, add the sugar and mix for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is fine and powdery. Add the flour, spices, and salt and continue to mix until all the ingredients are evenly combined. Add the butter, egg yolks, and brandy and mix to a dough. On a lightly floured board, knead the dough to form a thick log about 20-cm long.

4) Cut the log across into 12 equal pieces. (If the dough is very sticky, refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until it is easier to work with). Lay 8 pieces of the dough on the bottom of the baking tray. Spread the pieces out and press together with your fingertips to cover the baking tray evenly.

For the topping:

1) Stir the cherry jam, lemon zest and juice together in a bowl.

To make up:

1) Spread the jam mixture evenly over the surface of the dough with the back of a spoon.

2) Roll the remaining dough out on a well-floured board until about 1/3 cm thick. Use a small decorative cutter, such as a leaf, tree, or star, and cut the dough into 24 pieces. Evenly place the pieces on top of the jam mixture in 6 rows of 4. Alternatively cut the dough into long strips with a pizza wheel or knife, and place them on the filling in a lattice pattern; or cut the dough into ovals and lay them on the filling in a decorative pattern.

3) Brush decorative layer of dough with egg white, place in the oven and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes until the squares are golden brown.

4) Allow to cool completely in the baking tray before cutting with a serrated knife into 5-cm squares.

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