January 31, 2010

The Lovely Lady Baker - Lemon Bars by Tartine

Lemony goodness. I'm a sucker for all things shortcrust. Check out the Lovely Lady Baker for the full post.

Baking in a Blizzard

The other half of the Dynamic Baking Duo wrote a blog post all about those delicious lemon bars. You can read about it here.

January 30, 2010

Inductive Science: Chocolate vs. Lemon

I made our January recipe for "Lemon Bars" two weeks ago and served it to the 15 or more young professional/graduate students who meet weekly at our home on Sunday night for a sit-down dinner, bible study and conversation over coffee and dessert. I was mindful of John's initial post and doubled the recipe for the Browned Butter Shortbread, and included the pine nuts. I only made 1 1/2 times the filling for the "doubled recipe". Also decided to gussy up the presentation and made 2 tortes with fluted edges, instead of bars. I found the shortbread a little too oily for my taste but overall was very pleased...I did love both the color and taste of the lemon filling! So I put my sophisticated little dessert out for the PhDs, lawyer, faculty members, army officers etc. and lo and behold they mostly wolfed down made-from-a-box brownies that someone else had brought instead. I have baked for many a decade now and do know that resisting the lure of chocolate is like trying to hold back the tide for a lot of people but Betty Crocker Brownies instead of eye-pleasing, lemony slices of goodness on Brown Butter Shortbread? Really?

I have since made even more observations that lend credence to a hypothesis I have long thought: The default design for most humans, unless there is strong early environmental intervention, particularly females, is to seek all things chocolate first. Last weekend I had promised to make the "Groom's Cake" for the daughter of a friend. Had been under the gun most of the week at work and didn't start the first layer until late Friday night and then spent six hours Saturday finishing it up for a 6 p.m. military (i.e. swords and shining buttons on dress uniforms) wedding. Now I am not a fancy cake baker like the Lovely Lady Baker so I just quadrupled my grandmother's chocolate cake recipe, layered raspberry jam flavored with Triple Sec in between and covered it with chocolate butter cream frosting. It was monstrous...probably close to 30 lbs! Not at all sophisticated. More like something you see at the Riley Co. Fair with a 3rd place 4H ribbon attached. It dwarfed the petite and tastefully decorated rose pink wedding cake. I knew I would end up with half of it leftover. The caterers didn't know what to do with it and I saw them from a distance hacking at it and placing globs of mixed up cake and frosting on plates as best they could. It looked awful. And the officer gentlemen, petite wives of said gentlemen, the gorgeous bridesmaids in formal finery and the guests from the upper middle class and above all devoured it. Cacao must mimic some neurotransmitter in the brain.

January 29, 2010

TMM: Lemon Squares

Great choice Angela! This recipe for Lemon Squares is delicious.

As always you can read more about these this recipe on my blog, The Maiden Metallurgist.

January 26, 2010

Lemon Bars

I made the lemon bars last night and took them to ladies bible study this morning. They passed with flying colors, even some of the kids liked them. I followed the recipe, minus the pine nuts ~ only because I did not have any on hand. I found the recipe to be very user friendly and fairly simple. Yummy!!! Definitely one for the recipe box.

January 7, 2010

Better later than never.

I'm a bit behind, but I did make sugar cookies and I did take pictures and I did blog about it. Well, I blogged about the person who chose the recipe, but I put up pictures of the cookies. So it counts. Right? Read all about it here.

Lemon Bars

Well, after having been a member of the cOven since November, and a really crazy end of year, I have finally gotten around to some baking!!
And so I started on this month's recipe - Lemon Bars on Brown Butter Shortbread - and hope to catch up soon with the last few recipes!
So I had a ball baking the lemon bars, though a few things troubled me.......
Firstly, I am in Australia and some things have different names, so I had to ask Elisa what confectioner's sugar is - we call it icing sugar!
And then I had to check the temperature - I don't really understand Farenheit, but luckily I have a conversion chart on my fridge (actually a book mark from a favourite shop in Melbourne that I visit every time I'm there, called Books for Cooks).
So I started on the crust - and I would love to know if anyone else found that there just wasn't enough to cover a 9x 13 inch baking pan, so I had to suddenly resort to a small pan (or two - check first photo).
And then I found the pastry very sticky - probably because it was a very humid day yesterday - it is the middle of a warm wet summer in Sydney! So I added a bit more flour and a wee bit more sugar.........
Even though I have blind baked several times, I still find it a bit challenging, but I think it worked out OK.
And then I had too much filling, so I just baked some in a pyrex dish - and then ate some of it while still hot - very yummy!
Anyway, left is a photo of my version of the Lemon Bars soon after they came out of the oven. And I don't think they look too bad, even though my crust could have been a bit thinner!
So I then put them in the fridge as advised and then cut, sprinkled with icing sugar and served as dessert for our dinner last night.
And WOW! this was fantastic - so delicious that I wanted to eat two slices, but I remembered how much sugar, eggs etc that went into the dish - and my ever increasing waistline, so I only had 1.5 slices!!
And my partner loved it too - though he only had 1 piece, but took one for morning tea today!
Anyway, I look forward to the next baking adventure!!

January 6, 2010

Red Onion & Zucchini Flat Bread

Sorry to be slow with my post. I made around 30 dozen sugar cookies last month. I hope you all liked the recipe as much as my friends, family, and customers do. I loved the flatbread recipe. I used the Pillsbury "Roll Mix" for the dough and it was very good. We have a new grocery store in town with a wide variety of cheeses. Not being much of a cheese connoisseur, I chose something safe and used "Milwaukee Cheese". The final product was wonderful and I'm anxious to use the recipe again and experiment with more toppings and cheeses.

January 4, 2010

January Recipe

Hello Everyone and Happy New Year! I hope this post finds you all well and relaxed after the holidays. I am excited to share this month's recipe with you. Angela, of San Francisco, chose this months recipe, Lemon Bars on Brown Butter Shortbread. (The link will take you to the printable version.)

I'm very excited for this year and for all of the recipes we will try. That said, Please Please Please try and remember to post your final product to the blog! We have been a little scarce on posts and I know most of you are actually baking each month. Don't feel pressured to share a huge story about your items - at least share one photo and thumbs up or down rating. It is really fun to see everyone's creations so be sure to share with us. If you are having any problems with Blogger please let me know so I can help. 

Thanks Everyone and Happy Baking! 

Lemon Bars on Brown Butter Shortbread

Tartine by Elisabeth M. Prueitt & Chad Robertson

1/2 C (55g) Confectioner's Sugar
1 1/2 C (215 g) All Purpose Flour
3/4 C (170 g) Unsalted Butter room temperature
1/2 C (55 g) pine nuts optional

1/2 C (70 g) All Purpose Flour
2 1/4 C (455 g) sugar
1 C + 2 T (280 ml) lemon juice
zest of one small lemon
6 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
pinch salt

Confectioner's Sugar for topping optional

Note: If you can find Bergamot Orange (a sour aromatic variety), use the zest (the juice doesn't have the characteristic flavor) in place of the lemon zest. You may also want to try adding pine nuts to the crust. Their earthy flavor is delicious with lemon, and their light, fatty crunch is a good contrast to the crust. Pine nuts are one of the few nuts not overwhelmed by the strong flavor of lemon. 

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a 9x 13 inch baking pan. 

To make the crust, sift the confectioner's sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the flour and stir to mix. Add the butter and pine nuts (if using) and beat on low speed just until a smooth dough forms. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. It should be about 1/4 inch thick. To help even out the crust, use the flat bottom of any type of cup, pressing down firmly. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (you can also use beans if you don't have pie weights). Bake the crust until it colors evenly to a deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Rotate the pan 180˚ if the crust appears to be baking unevenly. 

While the crust is baking, make the filling: Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and whisk until blended. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to dissolve the sugar. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the whole eggs and yolk with the salt. Add the eggs tot eh lemon juice mixture and whisk until well mixed. 

When the crust is ready, pull out the oven rack holding the crust and pour the filling directly into the hot pan. (It is easiest to poor the custard into the pan if the pan is in the oven). If the crust has come out of the oven and cooled before you have finished the filling, put it back in for a few minutes so that it is hot when the custard is poured into it. Reduce the oven temperature to 300˚F and bake just until the center of the custard is no longer wobbly, 30-40 minutes. 

Let cool completely on a wire rack, then cover and chill well before cutting. Using a sharp knife cut into 12 squares or as desired. If you like, dust the tops of the squares with the confectioner's sugar. They will keep in an airtight container or well covered in the baking dish in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.