TA-DA!!! (and Lemon Squares!)

October 3, 2010

organizing the pantry

We… are OFFICIALLY (finally!) … moved in!! I’m Serena-Sundae, and personally, I cannot wait to start making some really sublime desserts (preferably having to do with chocolate) in our brand-new kitchen. As our class took our first steps into the Lodge, we pushed back the heavy wooden doors, unveiling our workspace. It was time to move in and arrange all the appliances in their rightful places.

Thanks to all the generous donations, we are pretty much covered in terms of appliances. In fact, we are more than covered with some utensils. For example, we have about 13 whisks, 10 spatulas, 7 flour sifters, a plethora of measuring cups, and just enough electric hand mixers to be on the safe side. Only after Seltzer Sayre, Sophia Pizzeria, and I cleverly arranged each and every whisk into one drawer did we realize that maybe 13 whisks was one too many. I’ll admit, eight people bustling around the island and squeezing in and out of the narrow pantry was a little hectic. No one got hurt, thankfully, from any potentially falling stock pots on the top shelf or from running into anybody, so that’s good. In less than an hour of finishing our individual tasks, the baking magazines lay neatly stacked in the pantry with the ingredients, and the cabinets stood closed and carefully organized.

All right, enough about organizing. Let’s get into the dessert part! This week, we made two different kinds of bars. Ms. Ruble split us up into two groups and assigned my group (Cupcake, Soy Sauce, Seltzer Sayre, and I) lemon squares, the other, lemon cheesecake. Circumstances got very competitive. On Wednesday, both teams made the shortbread crust and let them cool after the crust crept up the sides. On the following day, we could make the filling! Once we set up our mise-en-place (or prepared workspace), we could begin. Below, the recipe for both the shortbread crust and lemon filling are shown.

Shortbread Crust Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Lemon Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (approx. 2 large lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Garnish:

  • Confectioners’ (powdered or icing) sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a non-stick vegetable spray, an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) pan (or an 11 x 7 inch rectangular pan).

Shortbread Crust: Cut the butter into the flour and confectioners’ sugar and press into the baking dish (I used a food processor to cut the fat into the flour, and then the bottom of a dish to press the mixture into the pan). Bake 20 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling.

Lemon Filling: In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs until smooth. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to combine. Fold in the flour. Pour the filling over the shortbread crust and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the filling has set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

To serve: Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar. These are best eaten the day they are made but can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Some inside advice: When making the crust, make sure that the butter is cold when you’re cutting it into the flour. Also, the best way to get the most juice from a lemon is to roll it on a cutting board/counter and push downward. Then, slice the lemon in half. Don’t forget to ZEST the lemon FIRST!! As you’re zesting, be sure not to zest the white skin of the lemon because that layer tastes very bitter. Then, get a wet measuring cup, and squeeze the lemon halves over it (this may take some time and effort, but in the end, you have stronger arm muscles and the lemon bar tastes infinitely better than if you used all store-bought lemon juice). After you cut a lemon, the fresh scent disperses instantly and the kitchen smells heavenly. In addition to a powdered sugar garnish, berries, specifically strawberries and/or blackberries, are a nice touch.

You are free to rejoice in your tangy, refreshing treats! (They actually are very yummy. I couldn’t stop taking “just one more” bite.)

~ Serena Sundae

lemon bar garnished w/ blackberries

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One Response to “TA-DA!!! (and Lemon Squares!)”

  1. Lovely post, Serena Sundae! I’m very excited about our “finished” workspace too!

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