Thursday, 17 January 2013
recipe :: lemon squares
I was given a couple of great cook books for Christmas which are going to get a good workout this year. Over the weekend we spent the afternoon and evening with some dear friends, and I wanted to take along some afternoon tea since we were given strict instructions to just bring ourselves. It was nice to reach up to the baking shelf in the pantry after having a long hiatus from the kitchen while on holidays.
This recipe comes from a book called Grandma's Recipes (which I cannot seem to find a link for). Mum bought it from one of those book clubs that are left in work lunch rooms/kindy foyers etc where you fill out the order form by hand and your books are delivered to you. Old school, I love it.
In the early stages of bringing this recipe to life, it showed great signs of dying an early death. The problem you see, was in the size of the baking tray. When Grandma encourages the use of a rectangular or square baking tin, in true Granny style, she bypasses measurements. So I reached for my old faithful rectangular slice tin, the one I always use for a slice recipe, the one that has NEVER failed me. Made the base, cooked it, and then when it came time to pour the topping over, realised the amount of mixture I had was waaaaaaay more than was ever going to fit in the remaining millimetres left in the tin. I do believe I cursed Grandma for not giving a heads up on using a LARGE rectangular or square baking tin. I had timed the baking so I would take the tray out of the oven, wrap it in towels, put it in the laundry basket, and stuff it in the back of the car to cool down on the way. I had left myself no room for failure. Since when do I fail at baking anyway?!! Snort.
Think, think, what to do? The only thing for it - I got out a LARGE SQUARE baking tin (22cm), chopped the end off the base to fit it into the NEW baking tin, and tried to ignore the little empty hole in one corner of the tin where the smooshed-together-base wouldn't reach. I poured the topping mixture all over the top, shuvved it back in the oven. BAM. When we bit into this little beauty a few hours later.. OH. MY. GOODNESS. Think lemon meringue pie without the meringue on top. With an almost classic shortbread base (soft and crumbly, not hard like shortbread biscuit). I had some ripper lemons because it was perfectly sweet with a marvellous bitter tang as you swallowed. I will not share how many squares I had. Suffice to say, I will be making this one again VERY soon. Grandma totally redeemed herself.
Something I really love about this book is that what it lacks in baking tray measurements, it makes up for in ingredient measurements. Each recipe lists ingredient measurements in grams, ounces and cups. I love to cook in cups - means I don't have to wash the tray off the scales. Lazy much?
250g | 9oz | 1 cup butter
125g | 4.5oz | 1/2 cup sugar
250g | 9oz | 2.5 cups plain (all purpose) flour
pinch of salt
250g | 9oz | 1.5 cups sugar
2 tbsp flour
pinch of salt
2 lemons, juice and zest
icing sugar to decorate
Preheat oven to 160C (140C fan forced) (325F/gas 3). Grease a rectangular or square baking tray with butter (I still lined mine with baking paper so it was easy to lift the whole slab out once cooled, to chop easily).
Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the flour and salt and mix to a smooth dough. Press the dough into the base of the tin and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked and golden.
Beat the eggs and sugar until foamy. Mix in the flour, salt, lemon juice and zest. Pour the mixture over the cooled base.* Bake for a further 25-30 minutes until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool.
Sift icing sugar to coat the top and cut into squares (I used a hot knife to get through the stickyness as neatly as possible).
*I didn't have time to let the base cool, I literally pulled the base out of the oven when it was cooked (plus the few minutes spent fixing the tin-is-too-small-dilemma), poured the topping on and stuck it back in the oven. It is hard to imagine this slice tasting any better than it did, but next time I will try it with a cooled base and see if it makes any difference to the taste or texture.
**Sweet little mister couldn't get the squares in fast enough. Leaving room to chew is so overrated.