Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Keepin’ it Classic

baking has taken lots of creative turns in the past several years. weird spins on classic desserts are pretty much to be expected in trendy bakeshops and hipster cakeries. but sometimes, you just gotta go old school.

that’s where these lemon bars come in:

BTG Lemon  Bars

now this is a dessert that can do no wrong. bake up a good lemon bar recipe and you’re winning hearts all around the dinner table. i’ve never made them from scratch before but when i found them in an old cookbook, i decided it was time to bring back the classics.

this cookbook was quite the find for a pretty novice baker like myself. while staying in wilmington for a family medicine rotation a few years back, i frequented an eclectic used-bookstore. sometimes i would study at the quirky coffee bar nestled in the back of the store, but mostly i sat in a dim-lit corner, perusing dozens of old nutritional guides and vintage cookbooks.

one day, i came across volume 4 of family circle’s “illustrated library of cooking,” and being that the volumes were organized alphabetically, this one consisted of “cak-can.” read: “cake-candy.” i mean, it’s as if they made volume 4 juuust for me. i didn’t have a choice – i bought it.

BTG Lemon  Bars-004
it doesn’t get more old school than this – the publishing date was 1972. it’s pretty informative too, including information on everything from basic baking techniques, to classic sponge cake recipes, to even doctored cake-mixes and chocolate truffles. but i saw the lemon bars and fell in love. and so finally, with a few extra eggs in my fridge in need of love, i finally hunkered down and made them.

i made the crust first, and par-baked it:

BTG Lemon  Bars-005
then, i made the filling, poured it in, and baked again:

BTG Lemon  Bars-006
then its easy: remove, cool, cut, and serve!

BTG Lemon  Bars-001
BTG Lemon  Bars-002
this recipe didn’t need any alteration – just a doubling. give it a try – the taste is spot on!

old school lemon bars (makes 32 2-inch squares)
(double the original recipe by family circle “illustrated library of cooking”, vol. 4)

13x9x2 baking pan
stand mixer

1 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup ground almonds
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup flaked coconut

first, the crust:
  1. mix together the flour, powdered sugar, and almonds.
  2. add butter and mix till combined – this is easiest with your hands.
  3. press crust mixture evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 13x9x2 glass baking pan.
  4. bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, till it’s slightly puffy and golden. while it bakes, make the filling.
then, the filling:
  1. in your stand mixer (or by hand if you’re arm strength is even remotely better than mine), combine eggs, sugar, zest, juice, baking powder, and salt – beat at medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until it gets fluffy.
  2. stir in the coconut.
  3. pour the mixture over the hot crust.
  4. bake at 350F for 25 minutes, or until golden around the edges.
  5. allow to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.
bon appetit!

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