The Lemon Bar Project

And here are the results of the lemon bar jury – no, let’s start at the beginning.  As I mentioned yesterday, I had a whole day to myself, and one of my projects was to make lemon bars.  The recipe is from David Herbert’s More Perfect Recipes.  I used to have a lemon bar whenever I went to Starbucks, but they stopped doing them, so I was happy when I happened upon this recipe.

So how did it go?  Let me get straight to the point:  they look good.  They taste good.  And if you think you’re sensing a “but” here, you’re right.  But they’re not like the Starbucks lemon bars.  Could I have known this beforehand by analyzing the ingredients?  Does it make me a bad baker that I couldn’t?  I don’t know.  I’m not actually that disappointed.  I was just looking forward to a lemon bar as I knew it.

Lemon Bars 01

David Herbert’s Lemon Bars

Base:
125 g unsalted butter, softened
cup caster sugar
1 1/3 cups plain flour

Topping:
1 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/ 3 cup plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
icing sugar, to serve

Lemon Bars 02

For the base, mix butter and sugar together, then sift in flour.  Here the recipe says to fold it in with a metal spoon, which I did, but I’m not sure what it’s supposed to do.  The mixture should form a firm dough.  Which it didn’t.  I was all crumbly, so I used the hand mixer for what seemed like ages, but that was no better.  In the end I just turned the contents of the mixing bowl into the baking tin, spread it out evenly, pressed it into the tin and then used the back of a spoon to even out the surface.  Chill the dough for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180°C.  Bake the base for 20 minutes, it should be firm and golden, then leave it to cool in the tin.  I checked after 15 minutes but decided to do the whole 20, which I think was too much.  Seemed a bit on the dark side to me, and had looked better after 15 minutes.

To make the topping, mix together sugar, eggs and lemon zest, then add lemon juice and sift in flour and baking powder.  Pour over the cooled base and bake for another 25 – 30 minutes.  Again, I think 30 minutes was too long, as looking in the oven it looked much better at about 20 – 22 minutes.  As I hadn’t made anything like this before, though, I was a bit uncertain and decided to stick with the recipe.

Lemon Bars 03

A note on the ½ cup of lemon juice:  I had no idea how many lemons I’d need to get a ½ cup of juice, so I bought lots – enough to make another two batches of lemon bars – and found out that 3 middle-sized lemons are enough to get ½ cup.

Incidentally, I happened upon another lemon bars post today, and those looked better than mine.  So I’ll try that recipe next time, the topping ingredients had different amounts (a bit more of everything), the colour is lighter and is what I had mine expected to look like.  Guess I’m lucky to have a few lemons left over…

Nevertheless, I’m sure my lemon bars will find takers at work today, and I won’t be taking any back home…

Lemon Bars 04

And here are the results of the lemon bar jury – no, let’s start at the beginning.  As I mentioned yesterday, I had a whole day to myself, and one of my projects was to make lemon bars.  The recipe is from David Herbert’s More Perfect Recipes.  I used to have a lemon bar whenever I went to Starbucks, but they stopped doing them, so I was happy when I happened upon this recipe.

So how did it go?  Let me get straight to the point:  they look good.  They taste good.  And if you think you’re sensing a “but” here, you’re right.  But they’re not like the Starbucks lemon bars.  Not at all, really.  Could I have known this beforehand by analyzing the ingredients?  Does it make me a bad baker that I couldn’t?  I don’t know.  I’m not actually that disappointed.  I was just looking forward to a lemon bar as I knew it.

David Herbert’s Lemon Bars

Base:
125 g unsalted butter, softened
cup caster sugar
1 1/3 cups plain flour

Topping:
1 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp grated lemon zest
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/ 3 cup plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
icing sugar, to serve

For the base, mix butter and sugar together.  Then sift in flour.  Here the recipe says to fold it in with a metal spoon, which I did, but I’m not sure what it’s supposed to do.  The mixture should form a firm dough.  Which it didn’t.  I was all crumbly, so I used the hand mixer for what seemed like ages, but that was no better.  In the end I just turned the contents of the mixing bowl onto the baking tin, spread it out evenly, pressed it into the tin with my fingers and then used a spoon to even out the surface.  Then chill the dough for 15 minutes, while you preheat the oven to 180°C.  Bake the base for 20 minutes, it should be firm and golden, then leave to cool in the tin.  I checked after 15 minutes but decided to do the whole 20, which I think was too much.  Seemed a bit on the dark side to me, and had looked better after 15 minutes.

To make topping, mix together sugar, eggs and lemon zest, then add lemon juice and sift in flour and baking powder.  Pour over the cooled base and bake for another 25 – 30 minutes.  Again, I think 30 minutes was too long, as looking in the oven it looked much better at about 20 – 22 minutes.  As I hadn’t made anything like this before, though, I was a bit uncertain and decided to stick with the recipe.  A note on the ½ cup of lemon juice:  I had no idea how many lemons I’d need to get a ½ cup of juice, so I bought lots – enough to make another two batches of lemon bars – and found out that 3 middle sized lemons are enough to get ½ cup.

Incidentally, I happened upon another lemon bars post today, and those looked better than mine.  So I’ll try that recipe next time, the topping ingredients had different amounts (a bit more of everything), the colour is lighter and is what I had mine expected to look like.

Nevertheless, I’m sure my lemon bars will find takers at work tomorrow, and I won’t be bringing any back home…

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