Thursday, April 22, 2010
Lemon Bars, How I Love Thee
I LOVE citrus desserts! Love love love them. As does my father so, in the early days of learning how to bake, I made sure to learn a good lemon bar recipe. But as I gained experience--including making literally hundreds of full-sized sheet pans of lemon bars for a university, I came to see some flaws in the standard lemon bar recipe. They can be hard to serve if they aren't, like, entirely frozen. The crust tends to fall apart or turn mushy and there is no good way to stack them on a plate or tray.That's problematic.
And then I came across a recipe from Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson's book and bakery TARTINE. Instead of the standard crust, they use a brown butter shortbread crust that is TO DIE FOR.
And, because this is their recipe and not mine, I won't make you break out the kitchen scale (THAT YOU SHOULD HAVE.) But, while we are talking equipment, you'll need a 9x13 pan that you've sprayed and a your mixer. Rev up the oven to 350, Gertrude.
Here's the ingredient list:
for the crust:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup AP flour
3/4 cup of UNSALTED butter, room temperature
With the paddle attachment on your mixer, blend the flour and sugar together before adding the butter. Blend until you have a smooth dough. Press this dough into your prepared pan and about a 1/2 inch up the sides. Place a piece of parchment paper over the crust and smooth out the crust with the bottom of a measuring cup and then cover the paper with pie weights (or, as I prefer--dried beans or dried lentils). Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is evenly golden brown-don't be afraid to let it get a deep color.
While this is happening, you'll be making the filling:
for the filling:
1/2 cup AP flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup + 2 tbs lemon juice (I don't say this often, but if you need to, use the bottled stuff)
if you are using fresh lemons, use the zest of one as well
6 large eggs
1 egg yolk (freeze the white, don't throw it out)
pinch of salt
In a mixing bowl, add the flour to the sugar and mix before adding the lemon juice and zest. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolk and salt. The add this to the bowl with the lemon juice. Blend until well mixed.
Unlike other recipes, DON'T cool the crust before pouring in the filling. DO, however, remove the paper and pie weights. Reduce the heat to 300 and bake for 30-40 minutes longer. This is a custard filling so you don't want the oven super hot and the end result should be a set filling in the center-it shouldn't be wobbly.
Let cool completely before cutting or dusting with powdered sugar. Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.