Antelope Valley Press - AV Living (Antelope Valley)
Lemon bars will make you pucker
While normally my fall repertoire is all soups and apple-based baked goods, I have one delicious exception: Lemon bars.
The weather has cooled down enough that I’m willing to use the oven again and the flavor of lemon brings back that sense of being kissed by the sun, even if the temperatures outside have fallen.
Most of the recipe comes from Lee Ann, a friend I knew from college and the recipe’s namesake. She was kind enough, years ago, to show me how to make the lemon bars and later, to share pictures of the family recipe with me.
The original recipe calls for just grating lemon rind into what is essentially a lemon curd, which is subsequently baked. When I tried to make the lemon bars for the first time, years ago, I found the house I was living in lacked any kind of grater, large or small. However, it did have a blender.
So, lacking any way to grate the lemons, I instead threw them into the blender and decided to just see what would happen.
That first batch was good, as the lemon rind and pith gave the lemon bars a heft that was previously missing, as well as the special tartness that comes from lemon rind, but there was a problem: Seeds. I hadn’t removed them before blending the lemons.
Subsequent batches resulted in less sugar in the lemon filling (about half of the original recipe) and less shortbread crust, again, about half.
The original called for two sticks of butter and two cups of flour, and I found that the shortbread crust was either far too thick or it was enough for two batches of lemon bars.
That also means you could use a larger pan, increase the crust ingredients and the filling and have a much larger batch of lemon bars.
This recipe calls for whole wheat flour, but white flour works fine, as well. I find whole wheat flour gives a little bit of a nuttier flavor to the crust and a little bit of a grittier texture.
I also increased the amount of lemon juice. I like to err on the side of more lemon filling, rather than less. Of course, there is more lemon in this recipe than in others because you’re sticking one to two lemons in a blender, adding their juices and their flesh, to the filling.
When it comes to blending the lemons, I suggest cutting them into slices, first, both to deseed them and also to aid in the blending process. I find a little bit of preparation leads to a much smoother consistency of lemon filling.
LEE ANN’S TWISTED LEMON BARS Ingredients
• ½ cup salted butter (1 stick)
• 1/4 cups powdered sugar (32 grams)
• 1 and 1/4 cups sifted whole wheat flour, divided into 1 cup and 1/4 cup (146 and 36 grams)
• 4 eggs, well beaten
• 1 and 1/2 cups sugar (300 grams)
• ¼+ cup lemon juice
• 1-2 lemons, sliced and deseeded
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
1. Cream butter, powdered sugar and salt. Stir in 1 cup flour until well combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9”x13” pan and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. I suggest using parchment paper to line the pan. The lemon filling will be added on top of the hot crust after the initial baking period.
2. Combine the sliced, deseeded lemons and lemon juice in a blender. Blend until the pith and rind is very small.
3. Combine the blended lemon mixture and sugar in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then mix them in with the lemon and sugar, until well combined. Mix in the last 1/4 cup flour.
4. Take the crust out of the oven after 25 minutes and pour the filling onto the hot crust. Put it back in the oven for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, then refrigerate.
5. Optional: Sprinkle the top of the lemon bars lightly with powdered sugar.
6. Cut into bars. They can be served at room temperature or refrigerated.