Thursday, May 9, 2013

Like Manna from Heaven...Lemon Squares

Let's start off this post with a little kudos to all fancy-schmancy bloggers out there.  I have a swanky camera and I am not absolutely inept when it comes to using it, and yet these photos look like a baby chimp got loose in someone's kitchen and decided to play Julia Child.  Forgive me.  Let's move on. 
So a few weeks ago (I'm falling behind here) I got real domestic and decided that I was going to attempt my all-time favorite dessert, the lemon square.  Like most people, I am very into eating all types of desserts, but my knowledge of preparing them doesn't really go beyond cakes and cookies.  Thus, the lemon square was a big departure for me.  And it was a delicious departure.
So here is my baby chimpanzee photographic journey through lemon square prep.  And just so we're clear beforehand, although they are delicious, you may never be able to eat a lemon square again once you see what's in 'em.
Ingredients (as described by the recipe):

1.5 sticks of butter
1 3/4 and 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon of salt plus a pinch
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon zest
2/3 cup of fresh lemon juice, strained
1/4 cup whole milk

Here's the issue I have with the above list, and what I am assuming all dessert recipes.  I ended up needing almost three full sticks of butter!  THREESTICKSOFBUTTER.  That's crazy!  Crazy good, but crazy.  And I'm pretty sure the person making the recipe knew this, because there is no way the flour mixture you make for the short bread can congeal with only 1.5 sticks, but I think their sneaky trick is to say less than you need so you won't get freaked out by the inevitable three sticks of butter that will soon be congealing itself right to your thighs...but I digress.
Alright, so first you take 2 teaspoons of that butter and rub it all over a wax-papered baking pan, like below.  You need to do some fancy wax-papering here, with one sheet running the length of the pan and two sheets running the width (make sure to butter in between the layers so they all stick together!).  You need both so that when you remove post-baking, your lemon squares stay relatively intact.

Alright so now that your pan is all set, grab a bowl and mix together the 1 3/4 cups of flour, the confectioners' sugar, the cornstarch and the salt.  Cut the rest of the butter into manageable chunks and get to kneading!  I added the remaining butter as directed by the recipe, but when the butter was all mashed up there was still plenty of flour mixture that was left so I kept adding tablespoons until I got it all.  Inevitably, the grand total came to three sticks of butter...but enough of that.

Once all of the mixture looks sort of doughy, sort of the consistency of play-dough, you are ready for your pan.  Transfer the dough to the pan and press into what will eventually be your delicious, fattening shortbread crust. 

Throw that badboy into the fridge for thirty minutes, start preheating your oven to 350 F and bring out the lemons!
Now you are going to combine the eggs, sugar, flour and lemon zest in a bowl and whisk away!  After it's smooth, throw in the lemon juice, milk and a pinch of salt. 

Once your oven is all set, bake the crust until it's golden brown (about 20 minutes) and then take it out to cool slightly.  Lower your oven to 325 F, re-stir the lemon mixture and then pour it onto your cooling crust.

Bake for another 20 minutes or so, and voila!  Beautiful, delicious (fatty) lemon squares!  But now the real trouble comes in.  How the hell do you get them out?


That wax paper bit only goes so far (I didn't want to tell you that earlier)... the consistency of lemon squares rules in your mouth, but perched precariously on buttered wax paper?  Not so much.  After what I consider to be nothing less than a feat of modern physics, I got the lemon squares out in one piece and onto a cooling rack. 
And the rest is a cake walk (get it, baking humor). 
Cut 'em into squares with a clean knife, sprinkle with some more confectioners' sugar and enjoy!  Really, I was pretty impressed with how awesome they were.  I thought the consistency would be much harder to get right, but they were bangin'.

And just to prove to you how really domestic I was feeling, while I was kicking ass with my baking adventure above, I was also making homemade pasta sauce my friend Dana blogged about a few days earlier, seen below.  That too turned out delicious so I was munching like a king for days.  Go check out her recipe here.

Alright everybody, I hope you all want to go out and attempt your own physics-defying,
body-enlarging baking triumphs now! 
Be sure to take some chimp photos and show me in the comments!

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Thanks for getting touch, shoot!