Thursday, February 20, 2014

Heavenly Lemon Squares


LEMON SQUARES....to me this is the ultimate comfort food.  I don't know why but I get that happy feeling every time I eat it.  I know my whole family feels the same way cause when I bake it, all 32 cut pieces are gone in a few hours.



For many years, I didn't know how to replicate my aunties' lemon squares.  Their version wasn't gooey, or custardy, or chewy.  It was light and cakey.  And it was the only way I liked it.

I got hold of the recipe just last year.  The problem with most of my aunties' handwritten recipes though was that instructions were always lacking.  Mostly, they were just  listings of ingredients with very general procedures.  Some don't even have baking temperatures and baking times!  Someone with no baking experience would certainly not be able to understand them.   Luckily, I know a thing or two about baking and could somehow fill in the blanks and figure out whatever is missing or seems doubtful.

One thing I figured was that in order to make the filling cakey, then I had to make it like I would a cake.  Makes sense right?  So instead of just mixing the ingredients all together (as other recipes suggest), I tried beating the eggs very well in order to aerate them, much like a sponge cake. The result?


A super light and soft layer of cake!  With this particular recipe, the lemon taste is quite subtle and not overpowering.  My youngest, who is not at all a fan of anything citrusy, absolutely devours these! And the crust? It's heavenly as well!  It has a delicate crunch to it and literally melts in the mouth. Being so light, the only reason we stop ourselves from eating so many is pure guilt....

Have I made you crave for lemon squares yet?  Why not give it a try?  I'm pretty sure you'll be hooked as well!

LEMON SQUARES (makes about 32 pieces)


Ingredients:

For the pastry:
1 cup salted butter, cut into cubes
½ cup powdered/icing sugar
2 cups plain flour

For the filling:
½ cup plus 2 tbsp plain flour
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp Salt
5 large eggs
1 ½ cup plus 2 tbsp granulated white sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1 tsp lemon extract
zest of one lemon (optional, if you prefer it to be more tangy)

powdered/icing sugar for dusting

Procedure:

1.  Preheat oven to 180 deg C (350F). If you are using a fan-assisted oven, you might want to turn off the fan or lower the temperature to 160 deg C.  Line a 9x13 baking pan with baking paper. (I use a rectangular springform pan which makes it so easy to remove the lemon squares.)
2.  In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the pastry until it forms a dough. (You can use a mixer or a food processor to do this but I just use my fingers to squish it all together.)  Gather dough into a ball.
3.  Press the dough onto your baking pan. Spread it as evenly as possible. (Tip: If you have a 
fondant smoother, cover the surface of the dough with baking paper then flatten with the 
smoother.)
4.  Chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes then bake in the oven for 25 minutes.  After the pastry is baked, take it out but leave the oven on.
5.  While the pastry is baking, prepare your filling. (You can start this process about 10 minutes after your pastry has started baking. This is just so your mixture will not sit for long before it goes into the oven.)  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
6.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until foamy, starting from a low speed gradually increasing to high.
7.  Slowly add in the sugar.  Beat the mixture until it is very light yellow in colour and it has quadrupled in volume.
8.  With mixer on lowest speed, add in the lemon juice, lemon extract and zest, if using.  Lastly, add in the flour.  Mix only until everything is combined.
9.  Pour the filling on top of the warm, baked pastry.  Place pan back in the oven, lower the temperature to 160 deg C (325F) and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched.  Again, if you are using a fan-assisted oven, lower the temperature to 140 deg C. Baked filling should be very light golden brown.
10.  Move pan to a wire rack.  Let cool completely before slicing into squares.  Dust top generously with icing sugar.

Enjoy!


26 comments:

  1. Looks so good, Corinne. I like the fact that it isn't too tangy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. These are the lemon squares I have been looking for. It is like the version sold by Becky's Kitchen over at P. Ocampo in Malate. I also do not like the gooey type. Thanks so much for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Corinne,

    I kept reading your blog, but was to sick to reply right away... since 6 weeks I have such a bad cold and bronchitis, that I am not so much into computer...

    but I put your post on save to come back and tell you how much I love that lemon cake recipe... I just love lemons and this sounds so delicious... I will try this for sure...

    Take good care of yourself...

    warmest regards

    Andrea

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope ypu are feeling better Andrea! You take care too.

      Delete
  4. I made these the other day and they truly are heavenly! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Corinne, I was making this today and I had a difficulty forming the dough into a ball, somehow it didn't come together. I'm not sure what I was doing wrong. Do we have to add a little liquid on the dough? Thanks, Mela

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure what you did wrong. Was it dry and crumbly? Did you use the correct amount of each ingredient?

      It should come together as the recipe states. The bottom layer is like shortbread. It is not like a crust where you have to add a little water.

      Delete
    2. Yes, I followed the ingredients, but I really don't know what went wrong. Anyway, I just decided to add 5 Tbsp. water, then it came together and I was able to form it into a ball. Chill it for 15 minutes and used my fingertips to flatten into the pan. All in all it came out so delicious! This Lemon Squares is a keeper. Thanks.

      Delete
    3. I had the same problem and added about 3 tbsp chilled water and it worked out fine. This is a very good recipe, so much better than the ones I've tasted over the years. Thank you so much!

      Delete
  6. I tried this recipe and it came out really good. I am usually disciplined in eating small portions but with this lemon bar, I have depleted more than what I am suppose to.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi corinne! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I had a bit of a problem though my crust and filling separates when i cut it after it cooled down? And i think i over knead or maybe over baked my crust since it doesn't compare to your description that it should melt in your mouth. Thank you in advance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You aren't supposed to knead the pastry. You just need to combine the ingredients until it forms a dough. The more you handle it, the tougher it will become.

      Delete
  8. hi,:) what should i add if i want it more tangy?:)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Corrine! :) Is it ok not to put lemon extract? Coz i'm having a hard time looking for it. Thanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Corrine,

    I tried this recipe today and unfortunately it didn't turn out well for me. I think my oven is hotter than its intended set temperature, but that can be easily fixed at a lower temperature.

    It was the lemon filling that flopped. It didn't spring back when touched. When I touched it there was a dip. As the pastry was baking I was preparing the filling as instructed but I finished making it before the pastry was done. So the filling sat for about 10 minutes. Could that have contributed to it? It didn't have the bright yellow color like yours, but again I think the oven temperature effected it.

    The pastry was still tasty, even though it was over baked.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry the recipe did not work perfectly for you. As I always say, ovens behave differently so you may have to make adjustments the next time you try.

      I've made some revisions to the recipe. Hope that helps.

      Delete
  11. Hi Corinne! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! My co-workers loved them, and even asked me if they could take some home :) I wanted to ask you though, how did you slice them perfectly? I waited till the next day to make sure they are cold before I sliced them but I messed them up anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use a long, sharp knife - one that can completely go across the whole length/width of the pastry. Also, instead of cutting in a sawing motion, I push the knife straight down. I get cleaner cuts this way. But just so you know, I've messed up my slicing many times as well!

      Delete
  12. Hi Corrine:
    Happy 2017. I just want to know if you prefer this with lemon zest or without? Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be honest, I have not made this with lemon zest. I am fine without it.

      Delete
  13. Thank you for this. It was my first time to eat lemon squares and i prefer it now over brownies. 😊

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hello Corinne,

    I made this the other day and I love it! My only problem was, when it was baked, the top sort of cracked. It still tasted good but just doesn't look polished. I called it my deconstructed lemon squares instead. hehe. What could have I done wrong? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't really know what you mean by "the top sort of cracked". Did it not rise evenly?

      Delete