Susan: So, Alyssa wants to see a recipe I loved from childhood.
Susan’s Mother: [noncommittal hmmmm]
Susan: But it’s hard, isn’t it? I mean, I loved Taco Night…but all you have to do is brown meat and use a seasoning packet.
SMother: That wasn’t all you ate.
Susan: Right. There was Spaghetti Night…brown meat and add it to a jar of marinara sauce. London Broil…roast slab of meat and serve with ketchup. Pizza Night…order pizza.
SMother: Those wouldn’t be very good recipes, would they?
Susan: So I think I should just do a dessert and call it a night.
SMother: Grandma’s cookies? You can’t post that recipe.
Susan: Lemon squares?
SMother: Oh, that’s fine then. That’s not our family’s recipe.
The real conversation probably had something more along the lines of how hard it is to think back to my pre-veg days, when the vegetables we ate were bland and the meat was the main focus of the plate. I’m also sure that somewhere in the real conversation we must have acknowledged how much we love lemon squares. And by lemon squares, I specifically mean our lemon squares. If we try to buy them from bakeries or diners, we are invariably disappointed. Our lemon squares are extra-lemony, extra-moist, and so sweet I have to wonder how we get away with giving plates of them to our dental office every December.
As I ate a lemon square for breakfast (and various other meals, like Noonish Prelunch) today, I concluded that lemon squares are made for bright, sunny, spring days. Maybe it’s the sprinkle of powdered sugar so reminiscent of pollen counts. Maybe it’s the cheery yellow hue. But I think it’s to do with the texture, and the feeling that winter’s ice is melting.
Lemon Squares2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350oF.
- Sift together 2 cups of all purpose flour and a 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar. I would recommend against using a sifter, and instead using a basic wire mesh strainer. I’m not entirely sure you couldn’t just whisk them together either, but the idea seems to be that the flour and sugar should be very thoroughly combined.
- Cut in the butter. Unlike the sifting chore that I think could be superfluous, cutting in butter instead of creaming (pressing the butter into the sugar) it makes a huge difference in the quality of the crust. We want the crust to be somewhat flakey rather than dense, so do not use a spoon for this step.
- When the mixture starts to form pebble-like clumps, press it evenly into the bottom of a 9”x13” pan to make the crust. I greased my glass pan, but it’s not a requirement.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- About five minutes before the crust is ready, beat together the eggs, granulated sugar, baking powder, lemon juice, and remaining flour for three minutes. For me, the medium setting of my electric mixer is best.
- When the crust is done (there may be a tinge of color forming, and it looks a little dry), remove it from the oven just long enough to pour the wet mixture over it. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the top is firm to the touch.
- Cool for at least an hour before dusting the top with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into squares, and find a nice place to picnic.