Mom’s Lemon Bars, v. 2.0

I fully intended to post this recipe in August. But it’s now September. So I’m bidding adieu to the warmest (and most humid) season with these bright and tart lemon bars.

The original recipe belongs to my mom, who requested more filling. Unlike me, she doesn’t tinker with recipes, so if something needs an update, mom knows who to call. (Me, not the Ghostbusters.)

Being both confident and a risk-taker, I brought my first ‘now with double the filling’ lemon bars to a Fourth of July picnic. “Who made these bars?” was uttered multiple times. Success.

With that I say goodbye summer, and hello autumn. (The crystal ball shows a glazed sweet potato Bundt cake in our near future. I promise that will be posted early in autumn, and not as a farewell fall post.)

lemonbars_credmlcweb

Lemon bars | Cred: Melanie Cohen

Mom’s Lemon Bars, v. 2.0

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1/2 pound (two sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • 8 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons), optional
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
  • ¾ tsp baking powder

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. For the crust, mix the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter to the flour mixture. Using a food processor, pastry blender (I have this one from Pampered Chef) or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles course sand. Press into a 9 x 13 by 2-inch baking sheet or glass pan, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides.
    (If using a glass pan, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees for the crust-only baking and once the filling is added. Baking time remains about the same. You might want to check a minute or two earlier. Why? Science. Glass doesn’t heat quickly, but once a glass pan is hot, it retains heat much longer.)
  3. Chill crust in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. (You can skip this step if you’re running short on time.)
  4. Bake the crust for 15 to 18 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
  5. While the crust is cooling, make the filling. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest, if using. Mix the flour and baking powder together, then add this to the egg mixture. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
  6. Cut into 24 or 36 squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

(The cooked lemon squares freeze well, that is, if you have any remaining.)

lemonbar_credmlc_web

Lemon bars, now with double the filling. | Cred: Melanie Cohen

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Let Me Teach You How to Dutch Baby

Growing up my family went to brunch every Sunday. For a few years, we went to Bickford’s and my mom’s standard order was the baby apple pancake, a fluffy baked pancake topped with layers of thinly sliced apples and coated with cinnamon sugar. I usually ordered the Dutch pancake, which is served with a dusting of powdered sugar and lemon.

Photo Cred: Melanie Cohen

Photo Credit: Melanie Cohen

Then a brunch tragedy occurred. BICKFORD’S CLOSED. Those first few brunches afterwards were sad Sundays. But we persevered and found other restaurants and foods to satiate us. We’d always have the memories.

One day (insert a ray of sunshine), I found a recipe for the supposed Bickford’s pancake. I may have squealed. It seemed too easy, too good to be true. I was dubious that such a fluffy pancake only required five ingredients and basic baking equipment.

You guys, it really is that easy.

I tested it out a few more times and made different variations. I started to sound like the Bubba Gump of Dutch pancakes. A Dutch pancake with apples and cinnamon. A Dutch pancake with lemon and powdered sugar. A Dutch pancake with bananas and rum. A Dutch pancake with blueberries and almonds…I think you get the point.

There are myriad ways you could make this. It’s also ideal for when you have friends for brunch because the Dutch pancake requires minimal effort and it has a serious wow factor when you pull that fluffy masterpiece from your oven.

Now, let me to teach you how to Dutch baby…

Photo Credit: Melanie Cohen

Photo Credit: Melanie Cohen

Dutch Baby Pancake (three ways)

(This recipe, and any of the variations, may be cut in half and baked in a 6-inch oven-safe skillet.)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk (Any kind works–whole, low fat, etc. I’ve also used coconut milk to make the bananas and rum variation.)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Garnish: confectioners’ sugar, lemon wedges

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk in a bowl until just combined.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stir until just blended.
  5. In a heavy 12-inch oven-safe skillet (preferably cast-iron), melt butter until hot and frothy. Pour batter into skillet and transfer quickly to oven.
  6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and puffed. Do not open oven during baking. Serve immediately, topped with confectioners’ sugar and lemon wedges.

Apple Variation:
(Adapted from Yankee Magazine)

Thinly slice one tart apple (e.g., granny smith, pink lady) and put in a small microwave-safe bowl; soften the slices slightly in the microwave. Set aside. Combine 1 tablespoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon nutmeg with ¼ cup sugar. After adding batter to pan (step four) add apple slices and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake as directed and serve with warm maple syrup and/or butter.

Bananas & Rum Variation:
(Make the banana rum mixture while the pancake is in the oven.)

Slice two ripe bananas on an angle, set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons rum, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons orange juice in a large skillet until the butter is melted. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat so the sauce is bubbling gently. Add bananas. Cook until they are softened, about 4 minutes. Keep warm until the pancake is done.

Immediately after removing the pancake from the oven, top with the banana rum mixture. Slice and serve.

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