Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sort of Make You Sick: Lemon Bars

 A bit too sweet and lacking a firm base. I should have pressed the crust into the pan a bit more.

I have fond memories of lemon bars from when I was a kid. I remember helping my mom make some out of a box for a piano recital (gasp on both accounts - we all have to start somewhere), a touch of powdered sugar on top.

 The crust just after cutting in the butter. This is not the method Ina suggested, though I like doing crusts this way.

Fourteen years and several instruments later, I am playing with the big kids and making stuff from scratch. I tested out Ina Garten's lemon bar recipe at the foodnetwork.com. I was a little short on butter, but that was alright. I sort of wish I had read the reviews beforehand, which would have prepared me a little better for some of the imperfections, but I don't know that it would have prevented them.

Lemon Bars
Adapted from Ina Garten at the foodnetwork.com 

Yields, um, far too much for me to eat on my own

1/4 C  sugar
1 C  flour
pinch of salt
6-7 T (100g)  unsalted butter, cold

3  eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 C  sugar
1  lemon's zest
1/2 C  lemon juice (about 2 1/2 lemons)
2cm diameter, 1cm height  ginger, grated (optional)
powdered sugar (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C).
  2. Toss the first three ingredients together and then cut in butter.
  3. Press into the pan, chill for 5-10 minutes, and then bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  4. Remove from oven and cool.
  5. Whisk all remaining ingredients together and pour over crust.
  6. Bake 30-40 minutes until set (you may want to cover the top with foil to prevent over-browning a.k.a. burning before the goo is cooked nicely).
  7. Cool, dust with powdered sugar if you like, and enjoy!
Lemon Bar Reflections

  Filling goo with too much sugar and not enough ginger.

I could definitely feel the sugar grains in the lemon sticky goo top; that might be resolved with some sugar and juice pre-cooking on the stove top. I would reduce the sugar by 1/2 C and maybe compensate with cornstarch to keep the same soft goo consistency; they're just a bit too sweet and sort of make you want to stop after a small piece, which is abnormal for me. I would triple the ginger because it's pretty wow when you get a bite of gingery spice with the lemon. A 2:1 ratio of crust to goo would be cool instead of the other way around, but that's just me.

 The crust post baking. Those funny holes are from bits of butter that were on the larger side. Heh.

The crust was a bit whack; it may have been due to my altered prep, but one batch had crumbly I-wanna-stay-with-the-pan crust and the other popped away just fine from the pan, but it also separated from the goo.


Like a good chef and a procrastinating blogger, I let this post simmer... for about a week and a half after I originally wrote it. Over the five-ish days it took to consume nearly all the lemon bars, they surprisingly got better. The grainy sugar texture faded and the flavors melded in a way that would suggest you should leave food laying around for days. Even problems like the crust separating from the goo settled with time. I would still reduce the sugar, but maybe only by 1/4 C, and I would definitely up the ginger. These only made me sort of sick because I was merrily eating them all.

The Resident Taste Tester is back. Thank goodness! I need some help eating all these things and I'm sure the charm of grainy built-in web cam photos is wearing off (look forward to the transition post on brioche!).

In other news, I'm conducting a taste test with my friend Z tomorrow; he's having his birthday in a couple weekends and I will be providing the baked goods de jour. Look forward to a new post on pavlova soon.

1 comment:

  1. Oh dear, two failures in a row. That's not happy. I've never heard of ginger in lemon bars before, but then again, I've never actually made them, just eyeballed a few recipes.