To see the recipe for the Cream Biscuits from the KMOV-TV Great Day St. Louis program on January 12th, please go the recipe index above and scroll down to TV recipes.
Lemon bars are as American as chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies and loved just as much. Lemon is the number 2 flavor in America, just behind chocolate. The buttery shortbread base is the perfect compliment to the tart sweet lemon bar filling.
We made pan after pan of lemon bars at the bakery. Sometimes we would switch out the lemon juice for lime and make lime bars. But no matter what we made, they were always welcome.
Since leaving the bakery, I have had a chance to revisit some of my old recipes. This was one of them. This is the only recipe I have found that uses baking powder in the filling. The recipe for my lemon bars came from my first copy (which I still have) of the Betty Crocker Cookbook, given to me when I married. However, what I found is that sometimes the crust would pull away slightly from the sides allowing the liquid filling to seep downward. There is a little trick we used to keep this from happening at the shop. As soon as the Lemon Bars come from the oven, the back of a spoon is used to attach the crust to the side of the pan, preventing any seepage.
Also, on occasion the filling would crack while baking. For some reason, I decided to use powdered sugar, also called confectioner’s sugar, 10X sugar and in Great Britain icing sugar and in France sucre glace. It is all granulated sugar that has been very finely ground into a powder. It contains 3% cornstarch to keep it from clumping. Unless I am dusting something with powdered sugar, I don’t sift it. A few turns with a whisk and any little clumps there are disappear.
I am not sure if it is the fineness of the sugar that instantly dissolves in the lemon juice and eggs or the cornstarch helping to bind the filling but it is the best Lemon Bar I have ever made. When I used granulated sugar, I would see a heavy sludge of sugar and lemon juice at the bottom of the bowl. Now I don’t. The filling is much smoother and if you taste it, there is no grain of sugar. Since Lemon Bars have such a sugar heavy filling, this one change has made a world of difference.
If you wonder why there is more powdered sugar used than the granulated in the same recipe, it is because powder sugar weighs less than granulated sugar. So 2 cups of granulated sugar becomes a little more than 3 cups of powdered sugar by weight not volume since granulated sugar weighs 200 grams or 7 ounces per cup and powdered sugar weighs 130 grams or 4 1/2 ounces. Weight is the important factor, not volume when translating recipes from one measurement to another.
Since this is such a popular dessert, I came up with one more use for it – a mini wedding cake for those that can’t get enough Lemon Bars! Simply cut 1, 2 and 3 inch squares, powder sugar them then stack them.
PLEASE NOTE THE INGREDIENTS IN THE PHOTOS ARE TWICE THOSE USED IN THE RECIPE BELOW. We photographed a half sheet pan when I was making them for the cafe. However, I thought most home based cooks would prefer a smaller amount, so I cut the half sheet down to a quarter sheet or a 9×13 inch pan. The recipe below states a 9×13 inch pan but the ingredients in the pictures do not match the listed ingredients. If you prefer to make the larger 1/2 sheet pan or two 9×13 inch pans, double the listed ingredients. My apologies for any confusion caused earlier before I inserted this paragraph.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a quarter sheet or a 9×13 inch pan with parchment and spray the entire pan. Set aside.
Combine the flour and powdered sugar in a food processor. Process to mix. Add the cold butter and process until indistinguishable. process until the butter is indistinguishable. Do not over process and make a dough. It should be very powdery.
Pour the crumbs into the prepared pan. It looks like a lot but they will compress. Evenly distribute the crumbs making sure to get them into the corners. Press firmly into the pan. Go around the edges and press them down flat.Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 25 minutes until medium brown and baked through. Immediately upon taking it from the oven, press the crust against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon so there are no places for the liquid filling to seep downward.
Filling3 cups + 2 tablespoons POWDERED sugar (400 grams or 14 ounces)
1/4 cup +1 teaspoon flour (30 grams or 1 ounce)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs + 1 yolk
1/2 cup lemon juice, preferably freshly squeezed
Pour the filling over the crust and carefully put in the oven on the middle shelf. Bake 25 minutes or just until set.To cut these easily, freeze them first and cut them upside down, sawing through the bottom crust and then cutting straight down. Cut as desired.
These freeze beautifully without the powdered sugar dusting.
Here is the original recipe:http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/luscious-lemon-squares/c01a5935-6f52-419c-af08-e8c267c1aaf7