Lemon Squares

It’s been a cold, rainy week here in Oregon so I figured it’d be a good opportunity to make something reminiscent of warmer, sunnier days.  As luck would have it, my sister in-law sent me a message the other day asking if I had a good lemon square recipe.  I told her I had never made any that weren’t from a box, but I’d consult the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion and see if they had a recipe.  I was in luck, and as always, the recipe certainly didn’t disappoint!  No surprise, but home-made is infinitely better than the boxed stuff!

If you’re in the mood to try something summery, keep reading! Here’s the recipe taken from the Baker’s Companion:

Crust Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter
  • 1/4 cup (1 and 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (10 and 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour or unbleached pastry flour
  • 2 large eggs

CrustIngredients.jpg

Filling Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter, melted
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (8 and 3/4 ounces) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (5/8 ounce) cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) fresh lemon juice (2 to 3 large lemons)

LemonFillingIngredients.jpg

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream the butter until fluffy.  Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat well.  Stir in the flour and eggs, mixing until well blended.  Note: If you’re using a hand mixer, you’ll need to finish kneading in the flour by hand, as this dough is quite stiff.

Lightly grease a 10×15-inch jelly roll pan.  Press the dough into the pan, being sure to press it up to the top edge of the pan.  An easy way to level the dough is to cover it with plastic wrap, then use a small rolling pin or can on its side to flatten it.  Prick the dough all over with a fork.  Bake the crust for 8 minutes; it won’t brown much, just become set.  Leave the oven on.

To make the lemon filling: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, cornmeal, cornstarch, salt, eggs, and lemon juice.  Top the baked crust with the lemon filling.  Return it to the oven and bake for an additional 25 to 28 minutes, until the top is lightly browned on the top and edges [sic].

Cool them completely at this point, then dust with confectioners’ sugar before cutting into squares.


Ok, so here’s how I did it with some pictures that I hope will be helpful.

First, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and measured out all my ingredients.

I then started on the crust by taking my room-temperature stick of butter, placing it in the bowl of my Kitchen-Aid mixer, and beating it until fluffy.

WhippedButter.jpg

Next, I dumped in the sugar, salt, and vanilla into the butter, and beat it again until it was well-mixed.

ButterSugarVanillaSaltWhippedwithbsvs

I then added the eggs and flour, and mixed until I had a nice dough.

Crust.jpg

I then lightly sprayed my jelly roll pan with non-stick baking spray.  I set the dough on the pan and covered the pan with plastic wrap.

Rolloutdough.jpg

Then, I took a can from the pantry and used it to roll the dough out to cover the pan bottom as well as up the sides:

SpreadCrust.jpg

I then took a fork and poked the dough all over until it looked like this:

PokedCrust.jpg

I then popped the crust into the oven for eight minutes to set.  It looked like this:

BakedCrust.jpg

Next, I started on the filling.  I cleaned out my mixing bowl, then dumped in the lemon juice, salt, eggs, sugar, butter, cornstarch and cornmeal into it.  I then mixed the ingredients together to get what you see below.

FillingMixed.jpg

I poured the filling onto the crust, then set the pan back in the oven for 26 minutes.  My pan was a little warped, so I had to place a metal spoon under one corner of it while it was in the oven – make sure you use oven mitts when removing that spoon if you need to do it too!

After the squares were done baking, I pulled the pan out of the oven and let it cool completely on a wire baking rack.  Once they were cool, I sprinkled confectioners’ sugar (or powdered sugar, whatever you want to call it!) over the squares.  To get a uniform look, I dumped the confectioners’ sugar into a wire strainer with fine mesh and shook it side to side over the squares.  It worked like a dream!

Here’s another look at those squares again in case you don’t feel like scrolling back up:

Final

They were delicious – nothing like using fresh lemon juice and a from-scratch crust!  If you give these a try, let me know!  Happy baking, everyone!