Lemon Bars

[From dan]

Now I need to try out another lemon dessert (thanks Charley!). But here's the one I made yesterday. The Ithaca meeting would sometimes demand these, even when I made something else yummy; there was a potluck where I got yelled at for beinging a blueberry pie instead of lemon bars.

Looks like we're in for a doozy of a storm here in Boston, incidentally. Keep us in your thoughts; I have this vague fear that our building's door won't be openable tomorrow morning...

dan's extremely tart lemon bars (substantially modified from "Jeanette's Lemon Bars," _The Wooden Spoon Dessert Book_)

It's important to use organic lemons. Conventional lemons are heavily sprayed, and it's hard to get the residues and waxes off of the peel, which is very important to this recipe. Organic lemons also taste better.

1 c. flour (pref. King Arthur Mellow Pastry Blend Flour)
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, cut into thin slices
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
zest of 1 organic lemon

Middle layer:
1/3 c. currant or raspberry jelly (homemade preferred)

Top layer:
2 eggs, separated, room temperature
1 c. granulated sugar (superfine if you have it)
1/2 t. baking powder
2 T. all-purpose flour
zest of 2 organic lemons
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice (this is between 1-2 lemons worth)

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine crust ingredients using either a pastry cutter or your mixer until there aren't any large pieces of butter.
  3. Pat the crust into an 8x8 pan. Try to get it even (and make sure to cover the corners with crust.
  4. Bake until the top is moderately browned, about 20-25 min. It's very important that the crust is not underbaked, but is significantly dark.
  5. About 10 minutes into the baking of the crust, make the topping. Combine the egg yolks and the sugar (adding the sugar slowly), until they make a smooth mixture. Then add the baking powder, the flour and the zest, again, mixing well. Last, add the lemon juice. It should be really tart, with two separate blasts of tartness (remember that if you taste it, you're tasting raw yolks, which some folks should avoid).
  6. In a separate bowl (copper if possible), beat the eggwhites to stiff peaks. Fold them into the lemon filling very gently, until just combined. It's ok if there's a little un-mixed in white, and much more important than losing all the air beaten into the whites.
  7. Take the crust out of the oven when it's done and immediately spread the jelly on top of it. This is a very thin layer; try to make it even.
  8. Spread the top layer smoothly on top of this.
  9. Put it right back in the oven for 20-25 minutes. It's done when the egg whites that have browned into a toasty-marshmallow-y golden brown. It may still wobble a little when you take it out of the oven.
  10. Cool completely before slicing into 20-25 bars.

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