Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lemon rounds


Well, I've been going through quite the baking drought lately. It's been super busy and as I mentioned a few posts back, there have been a distinct lack of birthdays to bake for. So, I was pretty stoked about being invited to a barbecue--yay, a reason to bake!

To me, nothing is more perfect for a summer barbecue than lemon bars. I love all things lemony, but I especially love lemon bars--shortbread crust, sticky sweet lemon curd, yum! Maybe throw in a raspberry or two and that's my idea of perfection (at least in hot weather--we'll see how I feel when it gets cold again).


Anyway, you are probably wondering why this post is titled lemon rounds instead of lemon bars. Well, I have a terrible habit of misplacing things, and that includes baking pans. I know at one point I owned a square pan AND a rectangular pan, but damned if I know where they have gone. Muffin pan to the rescue! (Plus, sometimes individual portions are nice.) The sides are, of course, a bit crustier than they would have been baked in one large pan, but I happen to like the crusty edges.


I think my crust to filling ratio is slightly off as there is just a tad more crust here than I really wanted. But that's a minor quibble, and next time I'll just keep that in mind. Oh, the recipe? Well I had to go back to the Barefoot Contessa for this one. I am not a big fan of her show, but the woman does know her way around a lemon bar!

Well, we are off to Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest tomorrow--see you (all 4 of you wonderful readers ;)) in a couple of weeks!

Lemon Bars Rounds, adapted from The Barefoot Contessa
Makes 12 muffin sized rounds

For the crust:
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons or so)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup flour

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan. For the crust, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Sift the flour and salt together, then add to the butter mixture and beat until combined. Knead briefly, then break into 12 equal portions and use to line the bottoms of your muffin cups. (This gives you a fairly thick crust, so you may actually want to use less crust, your choice.) Bake until just set and very lightly browned. Remove from oven, but leave the oven on.

In the meantime, combine all the filling ingredients and whisk until smooth. When the crust is done par-baking, pour the filling evenly into each cup over the hot crust (it's easiest to do this if you transfer your filling mixture into a pitcher, or a large measuring cup--anything with a pouring spout). The cups should be about 2/3 full. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until set (a little jiggle is okay). Let cool to room temperature, and dust with confectioner's sugar, if desired.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Countdown to vacation time


Well, the craziness of May is over, but the craziness of work has not let up. Haven't had time or energy to bake or cook much lately, but our CSA boxes start next week...just in time for us to go on vacation! Whoops! Oh well, we are headed to Vancouver in a week--anyone have any recommendations for things to do or eat? There probably will not be much in the way of updating here until after our trip, but hopefully there will be LOTS to write about soon.

In the meantime, we visited the Cloisters yesterday (my first time in years) and had a lovely time exploring. Photo above is from the herb garden, where we got to see all kinds of plants used in medieval life (for love, for magic, and for cooking, of course!; if I remember correctly, that is anise. I wish I had more pictures to show but apparently I have gotten too used to photographing food and can't photograph anything else well!