Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread: Zesty Lemon Bars


Since it was actually relatively warm today (mid-50's is warm, right?), I wanted a little something that would keep the feeling of impending springtime.  And when I think spring, I think lemon.  Lemon with lots of sugar.  Because lemon is pretty sour on it's own.  So really, I think lemon with sugar when it's spring.

Since my oven is crooked and not installed properly, the filling was of course crooked, but I went with it. The recipe says that you shouldn't let the lemon filling brown, but frankly, it was either that or raw egg.  Once the bars had cooled, I cut them and tried them. They're very tart and bright, but not so much that you're sucking your lips from the sourness. The base is actually pretty good, too.

Zesty Lemon Bars
From The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree

Crust:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

Topping:
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons plus ¾ teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Position one rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9x13-inch pan with softened butter, then line with parchment paper.

To make crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt; process to combine. Add butter to processor and process until mixture is pale yellow and resembles a coarse meal, about 10 seconds. If you don't have a food processor, whisk together flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and work into flour mixture using a pastry blender or your fingers.

Pour crust mixture into prepared baking dish, pressing down with your fingers to create a ¼-inch-thick layer along the bottom and ½-inch up the sides, pressing firmly at the edges to seal. Transfer pan to freezer and freeze for 30 minutes. Transfer to oven and bake, rotating pan once during baking, until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and flour; stir in lemon juice, milk, and salt until well combined.

Remove baking pan from oven. Stir topping and pour into warm crust. Return pan to oven and continue baking until topping is just set but not browned, about 20 minutes.

Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 20 squares. Serve immediately or wrap each bar tightly with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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