Makes: 16 squares
A friend of my mother's would serve these lemon squares at their bridge games. My mother, knowing how I loved them, would bring some home for me. I thought they were the most sophisticated pastries I'd ever seen; they conjured up images of ladies drinking tea from delicate china cups with pinkies in the air, and doilies on polished silver trays. I still reserve them for slightly more formal occasions, but if you're craving a tart, lemony, butter-rich treat, go for it.
What you'll need:
9-inch square baking pan
Food processor or recloseable gallon-size plastic bag
and heavy rolling pin or saucepan for crushing crackers
Microwave or small saucepan for melting butter
Fine-mesh sieve for straining lemon juice
Mixing spoon and rubber spatula
Hand-held electric mixer
Small sieve for dusting with confectioners' sugar
Baking time: 35 minutes
For the Crust
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 whole crackers, crushed)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling
3 extra-large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
About 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Pinch of salt
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F with a rack in the center of the oven.
2. Place the graham cracker crumbs and the melted butter in a medium mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to mix them together thoroughly. Scrape the mixture into the baking pan, and use your fingers to press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven to cool while you make the lemon filling. Keep the oven at temperature setting.
3. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, then add the granulated sugar. with the mixer on high speed, beat the mixture until it is light yellow and almost doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. Move the beaters around the bowl and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula several times while mixing. Add the baking powder and salt, and beat on low speed until just mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the lemon zest and juice.
4. Pour and scrape the filling into the crust and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and wiggles only slightly when the pan is moved. Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool. Place confectioners' sugar in a small sieve and sprinkle generously over the top of the cooled fining. Cut into 16 squares.
5. The squares can be refrigerated, covered securely with plastic wrap, for up to 1 week. To freeze, allow them to cool completely after baking. Do not dust with confectioners' sugar. Spread them on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for at least 3 hours. When the bars are thoroughly frozen, stack them in a plastic bag for up to 3 months. Use a waterproof marker to note the contents of the bag and the date. Defrost them in the bag at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.
Using only the colored zest of a lemon or any citrus fruit will give you the most assertive taste. The white part right under the zest, called the pith, has a bitter taste, and that's why it's important to grate only the outermost surface.
When a recipe calls for both zest and juice of a lemon, lime, or orange, it's easier to use a citrus zester to remove the zest before you cut the fruit and squeeze it. You can get more juice out by first rolling the fruit on the counter several times with the flat of your hand. There is no substitute for the taste of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Don't even think about using anything from a bottle or a plastic, lemon-shaped container.
Basic Baking: Everything You Need
to Know to Get You Started Plus 101
Luscious Desserts That You Can Make
By Lora Brody
Morrow Cookbooks/An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
William Morrow; November 2000
Hardcover $25.00, 325 pages
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created April 2001