Saturday, April 18, 2009

lemon bars

i am a baker by heart, cooking is just a front. I thrive when I'm making sugar-y stuff...even when I am staying away from eating it, like now.
Lemon bars are a surprising thing for me, seeing as I spent a good 25 years hating lemon-based desserts. I initially wanted to make these for Billy, he likes that kind of stuff, and they looked easy.

Then I tried one, and I was sold. Lemons are now off the hit list, leaving only pancakes, mushrooms and bananas as things I truly loathe! Do I sound neurotic? meh. These smelled so good that I swore I could hear my neighbors lingering in the hall by my door because anything that makes the hallway smell better than it's usual aroma of "hamburger helper" is like heaven.

These are really easy, even though they are a two-step process, I usually try and stay away from things like that..but this one is so simple, you should definitely make them....

lemon bars

1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of butter, cut into small pieces and chilled in the fridge

Making the crust:
Preheat your oven to 350 F, line a square pan with tinfoil (I used an 8x8 glass baking dish)
and leave some foil hanging over the edges so you can remove the bars easily. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and sugar and mix them up well. Scatted the pieces of cutter over the dry mixture and use either a pastry cutter or something like that to work the butter in (I don't have a pastry cutter so I used a gigantic fork) until it resembles coarse crumbs. Press the crumbly mixture into the foil lined pan, make sure it's evenly pressed in, don't make the corners higher etc. Bake the crust for about 15-20 minutes or until you see it turning golden brown..don't worry about cracks, they are no big deal with these. Your kitchen should smell like shortbread-y goodness by now...lock your doors.

lemon part:
4 large eggs
1 and 1/4 cups of regular sugar ("granulated" if you are fancy pants)
2 tablespoons of lemon zest (grated from 2 whole lemons)
1/2 cup of lemon juice (again, from the 2 whole lemons)
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
icing sugar for dusting on top

making the lemon part:
wash and re-use your medium sized bowl from making the crust, less clean up = happy.
In that bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar with either your fingers or a big wooden spoon, I used the spoon because I'm weird about hands + mixing things. The sugar will turn a lovely shade of pale yellow. Beat in the eggs, then the lemon juice, sift the flour and salt over the surface and mix them in. Pour the topping over the baked crust (it's ok if the crust is still hot from the oven) and continue baking for 25 or so minutes, or until you see the top is set and not sloshing around. Pull it out and cool. Dust with the icing sugar before slicing!

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