Lusty Lemon Squares

March 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

The shutters were open and an old woman was standing on her balcony, a few buildings away. She was hanging her dripping laundry out to dry: shake, stretch, place, clip. It was only April, but Italy was having a warm spell. My chin was resting in my sweaty palms and I sat at our wooden table in the kitchen, motionless, unconsciously following her every move. The sun was at its peak, golden rays streaming through the windows and onto our red tiled floor. Today, my afternoon was free…and I knew that, despite the heat, some baking magic needed to occur as I’d promised some Italian amici a sweet American specialty. I had the basics: flour, sugar, eggs, butter. Last night’s dinner-festa had left only a bunch of cherry tomatoes and some lemons in our fridge. What was easy but scrumptious, refreshingly light but satisfying. Well, lemon squares, of course.
crust:
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
6 ounces (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted, butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
filling:
6 large eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

garnish:
about 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

  1. To make the crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine flour and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until mixed. Add butter and continue to mix until butter is the size of small peas, about 30 seconds. The mixture will be very dry. Gently press mixture evenly onto the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
  2. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  3. To make filling: In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and granulated sugar until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and then the flour. Pour filling on top of crust.
  4. Bake until lemon filling is set, about 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and then put in the refrigerator for 1 hour or keep at room temperature for 3 hours before cutting. Cut into squares measuring about 2 1/4 inches and dust the tops with confectioners’ sugar. NOTE: The squares may be made a day in advance, covered, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.
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