Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Cookie #4: Lemon Squares

We seem to be having technical difficulties with bar cookies. Nothing major, just minor annoyances. Funny - when I start out to make a bar cookie it seems like a great idea - baking them all at once, not having to scoop them out one at time - seems like they'd be a lot easier than a drop cookie, right? Not always. Sometimes it takes more effort to cut them and get them out of the pan than to just scoop and drop. That certainly was the case here.

DS presses the flour/butter mixture into a 9x13-inch glass baking dish.

Lemon squares was the pick of my youngest son. These are your typical lemon squares, nothing fancy - the usual butter, flour and sugar crust with a tangy lemon filling on top. We had an strange problem with these - the crust acted oddly. After baking the crust, it looked a little "bubbly" on top. When I poured the filling over the hot crust, as per instructions, a portion of the crust in the middle rose to the top. I wonder if I should have pricked the crust with a fork before baking? In any case, it was a small spot and didn't ruin the squares by any means, but it was a little frustrating considering this is such a straight-foward recipe.

This recipe calls for shredding frozen butter with a cheese grater. I grudgingly tried this, but as I suspected, it was a pain the neck. Instead, I opted to put the butter and flour mixture in the food processor and pulse - my preferred method for making a pie crust. The shreds of butter seemed as though they were going to all clump together which seemed to be counterproductive if the point in a good crust is to evenly distribute the butter throughout the flour, without compacting it.

The recipe also calls for lining the baking dish with waxed paper, but it doesn't say anything about an overhang. However, later on in the recipe, it calls for lifting the lemon squares out of the pan - as if you had left an overhang to do so. I'm not sure what they're after here - but if you're going to leave an overhang in order to lift them out, I wouldn't use waxed paper, I'd use parchment paper. Not knowing there supposed to be any lifting, I just lined the bottom of the pan with waxed paper. I wouldn't recommend it - seemed like they were harder to get out this way. Parchment, with or without an overhang, is the way to go - why did I think otherwise? Note to self: trust your instincts, even if it is Martha Stewart!

These bars were good - lemon filling and a butter crust - can't really go wrong - but I've tasted better and would try a different recipe next time. There were just too many errors and problems in how they wrote this recipe that I'd rather try a whole new one.

I've been concentrating on decorating and finishing up other holiday errands, but I hope to get back to baking today or tomorrow, so hopefully I'll be posting Cookie #5 soon!


  1. Anonymous7:27 PM

    The lemon bars I made this year have melted butter in the crust, but I'll bet the whole butter blended in gives it more of a shortbread flavor than the melted butter... Hmmm...

  2. Hi Erika. The crust is good, but not as flaky as I expected. Perhaps my son smooshed the crust a little more than was necessary. ;-)