"I've discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it."
- William Faulkner

Friday, March 5, 2010

when life gives you lemons, make lemon bars

I’ve recently started to “take” (as my mom says) Southern Living, and I love it. I feel so Southern when I read it, and having a subscription to me is kind of like a rite of passage. I love everything about it. Well, except the gardening section. No amount of beautiful, flowery photography is enough to make me want to get out in my own yard and dig around.

So far, my favorite thing about the publication is the recipes. Each issue has so many, and most are totally do-able. I’ve made a resolution to make at least one recipe out of each issue, which is not a difficult task, considering Kell is more than pleased to be a taste-tester. This month featured two recipes for lemon squares, and wouldn’t you know it, Kell loves lemon squares. The recipes were “Mama’s Way vs. Your Way” variations on the treat, and I decided to go with Mama’s way only because I wasn’t sure if I could find lemon curd at Wal-Mart, and I don’t like the sound of lemon “curd.”

Don’t let the length of the recipe fool or intimidate you. It’s several little steps, but none is difficult. And in fact, I was pleasantly surprised at how well mine turned out (unfortunately, I’m not a good enough photographer to have taken this picture, but mine are honestly just as lovely). I mean, they looked as good as the ones at the MSU bakery. Joy the Baker would be so proud of me.

Southern Living Lemon Bars
Makes about 2 dozen (yeah, if they’re like an inch long. My batch made like 15.)

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (not that junk out of the lemon-shaped plastic thing)
½ tsp. baking powder
More powdered sugar (for sprinkling the tops)

Preheat oven to 350. Line bottom and sides of a 13x9-inch pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil or parchment paper, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil.

Stir together 2 cups flour and ½ cup powdered sugar. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs in a large bowl until smooth; whisk in granulated sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir together baking powder and remaining ¼ cup flour. Whisk into egg mixture. Pour mixture over hot baked crust.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until filling is set. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Lift from pan, using foil sides as handles. Cook completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes). Remove foil, and cut into bars, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

My notes: Kell’s only drawback for this recipe was that it wasn’t lemony enough. I think next time I’ll do ½ cup fresh lemon juice (ends up to be 2 whole lemons) and a little more lemon zest. As for the crust being “lightly browned,” I wasn’t sure what that meant; I just baked it for like 27 minutes and went to the next step. I figured I would be better off that way then charred beyond recognition. Also, I wasn’t sure my store-brand aluminum foil would do well as handles, so I used 2 sheets, and it was perfect. They're the tastiest when they've cooled completely and the flavor is set. I think these would make super cute little lemon pies if you baked them in the mini tart shells.

I’m off to see Harris in Birmingham this weekend, and I’m so excited. We have plans to eat, shop and see Alice in Wonderland with Claire. I cannot wait!

Have a great weekend, friends.


Sarah Barry said...

Yum. I will have to try these. My sister loves lemon squares, so she can help me eat them because our husbands don't like sweets (they're weird).

Also, I'm with Kell on the meatloaf. I love it.

Anonymous said...

i LOOOOOOOVE lemon bars (wanna send some my way?) and the new mississippi magazine has a meyer lemon bar recipe that looks yummy too. love southern living and ms mag!!!!!

laura mc

Anonymous said...

There's a scrumptious recipe from SL for a lemon tart (I made tartlets! Bite sized---better for carrying places!) It has lemon curd, which I found at Piggly Wiggly, since WalMart didn't have it. Don't be scared of lemon curd...it's better than the name sounds:)
I took some to school; your mom liked them!

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