2.0 has a routine when we go to visit his mummy, Jackie, by the ocean. As soon as we arrive, 2.0 runs to the washroom yelling, “why did you let me drink all that coffee before the drive?” Jackie shakes her head. 2.0 pillages Jackie’s refrigerator for snacks. 2.0 tells his mother that he is very hungry because I never feed him. 2.0 does some chores on the property, running back into the house on occasion to tell his mother about how he’s still hungry because I won’t let him eat breakfast. Or lunch. Or anything he likes, really. Jackie says that it must be horrible to live with me. He nods, and then runs away before I can punch him in the throat.
As mentioned previously, the recipes that I find at Jackie’s house are really just shopping lists. This is because in the days of yore, people didn’t need instructions. (They didn’t have reality tv back then, so people were smarter.) As I write the shopping lists down, I ask Jackie how she prepares them, and she gives me some notes on procedure. I always try to find out where the recipe concept came from originally. Jackie will say, oh, that was so-and-so from such-and-such a place. But she’ll use the actual names and stuff. So when I asked about this particular recipe, she told me it came from Aggie Donovan. For a long time, 2.0 and his family lived in Ingonish, which is in Cape Breton. That’s where they met Aggie. Aggie was 2.0’s grade 2 teacher, which means she would have had the pleasure of seeing 2.0 when he had bangs.
When I tested the recipe for these squares, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that 2.0 had always loved them, but he described them very vaguely. He failed to mention the meringue topping, so I’ll tell you about it right away: there’s a brown sugar meringue topping. He didn’t mention that the base of the square is thin and caky, and that the whole thing tastes light and airy – no one flavour dominates this tasty little ditty. 2.0 also failed to mention that these squares are so light and airy that you could probably eat the whole pan by yourself in under 15 minutes.
Of course, he also neglected to mention that he had bangs back in day, so…
. . .
recipe: adapted from a family recipe handed down to me by Jackie Huskins, which she acquired from Aggie Donovan
Makes one 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) pan.
For the batter:
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, separated (you will use the yolk in the batter, and the egg white for the topping)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the topping:
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen – do not defrost if using frozen)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease one 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) baking pan.
Begin by preparing the batter. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking power and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer on medium speed (or with a hand held mixer), beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the egg yolk and beat to combine (about 30 seconds). Add the milk and vanilla and mix on medium-low speed to combine (about 1 minute). Scrape down the sides of the bowl to be sure all ingredients have been combined.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and beat on medium speed until well combined (1-2 minutes).
Spread the batter evenly into the bottom of the baking pan.
To make the topping, beat the egg white until stiff. Gently mix in the brown sugar until combined. Fold in the blueberries. Spread evenly on top of the batter in baking pan.
Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.