Saturday, February 18, 2012
Random Food Fridays - Lucy's Lemon Bars
Scholastic books were a big part of my early school experience. I don't know if getting to pick out a new book generates as much excitement today, but back in the 70's, it was a big deal. Even then, I was interested in cooking and I loved the Peanuts. I can remember working my way through the entire history of Peanuts cartoon books at our public library. I think I must have chosen the Peanut's Cookbook in 5th or 6th grade. I do know that by middle school, I was making these lemon squares to bring to bake sales and Girl Scout events. I still remember the time one of my friend's dad raved about these and asked for the recipe. This is a demonstration of the power of words to young people. That moment is crystalized in my memory, and I still enjoy cooking and sharing today.
I no longer own the Peanut's Cookbook. As I recall, it began to fall apart and I copied my favorite recipes into our family cookbook and let it go. (I probably would never do such a thing today!) According to my notes, the Peanut's Cookbook was first published in 1963 (my natal year) and I had the 1970 Scholastic edition. I copied the recipes into our family cookbook in 1986, the year my daughter was born. I don't remember, but I wouldn't be surprised if culling the cookbooks and organizing the kitchen were a part of the nesting frenzy that occurred before my daughter's birth. It is very unlikely that I undertook such a project any time within her first year.
This is a basic lemon bar recipe and there are many variations across the interwebs. I hope to try some gluten free versions for my BFF, Paula. When I made these this week, I used Meyer Lemons, which have a smooth lemon flavor. For a brighter and more zingy flavor, go for Eureka lemons. My only alterations from the original recipe are that I added the grated zest of one lemon to the custard and will include instructions for using a food processor. These can be doubled and baked in a 9 x 13 pan, but may require a few minutes more in the oven.
Lucy's Lemon Bars
1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter (cold)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (3 is OK and easier to measure!)
dash of salt
(grated zest of one lemon)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the flour, powdered sugar into a bowl or the bowl of your food processor and mix. Cut the butter into cubes and add. Either work in with your hands or pulse in the food processor until the mixture is thoroughly combined and comes together. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch bake pan and press the dough into the bottom of the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
While the crust is baking, make the lemon custard layer. Place the eggs, sugar, baking powder, lemon juice and a dash of salt. Add the lemon zest, if desired. Whisk until combined and frothy.
When the crust is done, remove from the oven. Give the custard another stir and pour it over the crust. Place back in the oven and bake another 20-25 minutes. The center should only jiggle slightly when they are done. Remove and place the pan on a cooling rack. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar. At my house, this makes 9 squares.