baking for people is one of my favourite things to do. so much so, that i’m not sure i could turn it into a gig. though, many people have suggested that i do. lemon squares are one of my favourite things to bake. namely, because i like lemon. and moreover, lemon curd.
i made a batch of lemon squares for a clothing swap that i held a few weeks ago. they were a big hit. but to be honest, i wasn’t crazy about them. they were good, but they had a meringue texture on top, from having baked the topping. so, when i baked lemon squares for someone this week, i opted for curd, instead, because it makes everything better. that and candied lemon peel.
base, from canadian living
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
beat together butter, sugar and salt until light; stir in flour until blended.
press into prepared pan (i used parchment paper) and chill for 30 minutes.
bake at 325F for about 25 minutes or until just golden.
topping, adapted from rose’s christmas cookies
6 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cup sugar
the juice of 4 lemons (about 4-5 liquid ounces)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
3 teaspoons lemon zest (finely grated)
3 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting
in a double boiler, beat the egg yolks and sugar with a wooden spoon until well blended.
stir in the lemon juice, butter, and salt.
cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 6-7 minutes, until thickened and resembling hollandaise sauce, which thickly coats a wooden spoon but is still liquid enough to pour. (a candy thermometer will read 196°F.)
the mixture will change from translucent to opaque and begin to take on a yellow color on the back of a wooden spoon. it must not be allowed to boil or it will curdle.
when the curd has thickened, pour it at once into the strainer. press it with the back of a spoon until only the coarse residue remains. discard the residue. stir in the lemon zest.
when the shortbread is baked, remove it from the oven, lower the temperature to 300°F., pour the lemon curd on top of the shortbread, and return it to the oven for 10 minutes.
allow the squares to cool for at least 10 minutes, then place in the refrigerator for another thirty before slicing.
candied lemon peel
this might be my favourite thing in the world right now. i’m always looking for ways to incorporate it into desserts.
peel your lemon, making sure to get as little of the pith as possible.
throw the peel into a pot of water and bring it to a boil.
once it starts boiling, drain the water and refill. bring it back to a boil and repeat the process three more times (four boils in total).
once you’ve strained the peel for the last time, fill the pot with a solution of 2 parts water and 1 part sugar (usually i do 2 cups water to 1 cup sugar, and that works well for 3 lemons worth). put the lemons in and bring to a boil.
allow the solution to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the peel is soft and sugary.
using tongs, remove the peel and dunk into a small bowl of sugar to coat.
place on parchment paper and cool.