Monday, December 22, 2008

belle's lemon bars

I am known as "that girl who bakes" at TD's work. I love baking, but I can't and shouldn't eat all that I bake. I would bring stuff into school, except that I have no cohort or department to speak of and my friends are scattered. Also, I don't want to be "that girl who bakes" at my own department, but am happy to be that vaguely pre-feminist person at TD's. So I just tell TD to bring the bulk of my baked goods to work to share with the coworkers. Half of the time he does this: apparently, the rest of the time he eats that batch of cookies or loaf of challah himself. But my lemon bars are a big hit at his workplace, and so here's the recipe:

I like this recipe because it has a brown sugar shortbread base, which is thick and has a warm, toffee-taste. I double the curd, and reduce the sugar slightly for a super bright, sweetly tart lemon experience. It's just a nice mix of textures and tastes.

Hot shortbread base:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces. In a food processor process all ingredients until mixture begins to form small lumps. Sprinkle mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch greased baking pan and with the bottom of something flat (I use my metal measuring cup) press evenly onto bottom. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden, about 20 minutes. While shortbread is baking, prepare topping.

Lemon Curd

  • 8 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 2 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs. flour
  • 3-4 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in medium bowl, then stir in lemon zest, juice, milk, and salt to blend well.

Assemble and bake:

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Stir filling mixture to reblend; pour into warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 40-50 minutes. (Check at 40 min). I check by prodding the middle with a dry spaghetti stick: wobbly is bad. When it stops wobbling, I check again by piercing it and seeing that the sphaghetti stick comes out mostly clean. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to near room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Cut into rectangles (I do rows of 6x6) and apparently they disappear within five minutes and are a big hit with your officemates and help you get favors.