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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The King of All Lemon Bars



 I love lemons and limes and I love all manner of tart/sweet citrusy baked goods but I rarely make them. To be honest, other than Christmas and snack day muffins, I don't bake all that much. I am sure my kid would be even happier than he already is if I did bake more but you can't have it all, can you? Speaking of lemon flavoured baked goods, if you haven't checked out the site Frosting For The Cause, you must do it now. 365 bloggers will participate with a different blogger posting every day. They tell their stories about how cancer has affected their lives, the lives of the women that they care about, they bake something delicious and donate the baked goodies to some sort of cancer hospice or hospital and donate $25 to a cancer org. My contribution of lemon meringue cupcakes was the Feb 15 posting. Those cupcakes were so delicious that I am afraid to make them again because I am afraid that I would eat the whole batch myself.



 I  have to make a bunch of sweet treats for a little event that I am helping out with this weekend and one of the things I wanted to try were lemon bars. I searched the internet and to be honest, they all started to just sound the same and I wanted something a little different. It came down to a choice between Ina Gartner's lemon bars. which I knew would be a safe bet because all of her recipes are delicious but I couldn't stop going to back to this bar that uses the entire lemon, from David Lebovitz. If you aren't familiar with him, you should be because he is an awesome pastry chef and he is my twitter buddy, even if he isn't aware of that. I just loved the idea of throwing an entire lemon into the food processor and doing it up big.

I put it to a vote on my board, Sybermoms and the response was an overwhelming majority who voted for Mr Lebovitz. Some seemed secretly afraid that Ina's recipe would involve some cross contamination with raw chicken hands at some point and they also seemed to be intrigued by the whole lemon thing.

I loved the hint of bitterness provide by using the pitch and the skin and it makes it just a little more "grown up" .The recipe is very straight forward and simple, I didn't change a things and the only thing wrong with it is that it only makes a small batch!




David Lebovitz's Whole Lemon Bars
Crust
1 cup  flour
1/4 cup  sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
Lemon Topping
1 lemon, 
1 cup (200g) sugar
3 tablespoons (45ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 large eggs, room temperature
4 teaspoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons (45g) melted unsalted butter
 powdered sugar, for serving


 Preheat the oven to 350ºF 
He gives instructions on how to line your pan with tin foil. I used cheap foil and it didn't work perfectly for me so I will try using a spring form pan next time and see how that works


 In a medium bowl, mix the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the salt, 8 tablespoons melted butter, and vanilla and mix it until just blended together.
use your fingers to push the crust into the bottom of the pan trying to get it all even and smooth.


He instructs to bake the base for 25 minutes but mine wasn't very brown after 25 minutes so i cooked it for another five minutes, bringing my time to 30 minutes.



Meanwhile, cut the knobby end off your lemon, cut it up in chunks and remove the seeds. 



 Put the chunks of lemon, the sugar and the lemon juice in the food processor and and run it til the lemon is totally ground up. Add the eggs, corn starch, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 3 tablespoons of melted butter and blend it til it's all nice and smooth but don't worry about a few little chunks.



After you take the crust out of the oven,  reduce the heat of the oven to 300ºF. Pour the lemon mixture right over the hot crust - it will make an impressive sizzle and splat when you do that, which was very cool. Bake it for about 25 minutes until the filling is just set.



Take it out of the oven and set aside and let it cool down completely. I think I tried to remove it before it was 100% cooled down and it sort of split in a few places for me. I won't do that next time.


The bars are good for 3 days at room temp in a covered container or you can freeze them and defrost them for serving at a later date.