Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lemon Bars

Florida is not exactly local to me, but it's the closest to local I can get for citrus fruit, and it's still better than Mexico or California, so it passes for regional in my book. This time of year is great for getting all types of citrus: oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, grapefruit, pomelos, etc. During a fairly barren season, citrus is a glimpse of nearly local freshness that could very well keep us all sane, till the spring time.

The mood struck for lemon bars, so I consulted my very old, very trustworthy Better Homes and Gardens Home Baking book. I routinely use conventional recipes and try to make them a bit healthier. Sometimes, desserts just don't lend themselves to healthy, and this was one of those times, as it turns out. I made this recipe, using half whole wheat and half all-purpose flour, and the crust came out a bit too dense, though still tasty. Next time I'll use only 1/3 whole wheat; that should do the trick. This is the recipe as I made it, adapted from the aforementioned book.

Lemon Bars
1/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
2 eggs
2 Tbsps all-purpose unbleached flour
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
3 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. baking powder
powdered sugar, for dusting

For crust, in a medium mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until softened. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat until thoroughly combined. Then beat in flour (except the 2 Tbsps) on low speed until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Press mixture into an ungreased 8x8x2 inch baking pan. Bake in a 350 oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, for lemon mixture, in the same mixing bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed until just foamy. Add the remaining sugar, 2 Tbsps flour, lemon juice, baking powder, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Beat on medium speed about 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Stir in lemon zest. Pour lemon mixture over baked crust. Bake in 350 oven for 20-25 minutes, or until center in set. Cool in pan on a rack. Sift powdered sugar over top. Cut into bars. Store covered in refrigerator. Makes 16.

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