This is my second creation from my great Saturday bake-off last weekend. I actually bought Meyer lemons and oranges weeks ago thinking that I would have time to bake. How wrong I was!
While I hope to change that soon, I’m going to savor the day that I spent the day in my happy place baking from the time I stepped out of bed until sometime after dinner.
Today I present to you my Meyer Lemon Bars with Olive Oil. Wait, I should back up, this aren’t really my lemon bars, I saw this recipe online in the New York Times and put it in my Pocket until I had a chance to make them. One of my favorite bosses from my old job would make lemon bars and bring them to work for our Friday Social (something I’m hoping to start at my new job), but forgot to give me the recipe.
For some reason I’ve always been a bit nervous about making them. I think it’s because deep down I know it’s a curd on shortbread and I’m not a fan of eggs. I’ll certainly eat them in breads, cakes, and even quiches, but never serve me an omelet, fried, scrambled or boiled egg. Yuck. That’s why I tend to shy away from custards, flans, and curds. If I can smell the egg, I won’t eat it.
Anyway, I was very interested in the recipe I found in the NY Times because it called for butter and olive oil. I’ve really been into baking with olive oil lately, so I was hoping for a chance to try the recipe. Wish granted!
The shortbread and curd came together easily. The only issue was the cooking time. The recipe said to bake until the curd “just set”. I never know what that means. It reminds me of pecan pie recipes. You’re supposed to bake them until they jiggle. What does that even mean? In both cases the filling will set as it cools, so if you bake it too long, you’ll have something more like taffy and if you don’t bake it long enough, it will be a tad runny and unpleasant. I always cross my fingers and hope for the best.
The texture was ok I think. It was a bit firmer than a slice of lemon meringue pie and since I’ve never made lemon bars before, I’m going to assume that’s ok. The bars were perfectly sweet and tart and I loved the crunch of the shortbread underneath. Miles loved them although he though the lemon part was a little too thick. I think I agree with him. I’ll have to make them again using a 9×9 square pan as instructed instead of an 8×8 pan. The recipe also called for sea salt, but I nixed it at the end.
Note: Below is the recipe as printed.
Meyer Lemon Bars with Olive Oil
For the shortbread
- 1 ¼ cups /155 grams all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup /50 grams granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons /25 grams confectioners’ sugar , plus more for sprinkling
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 10 tablespoons /142 grams cold unsalted butter , cut into cubes
For the curd
- 4 to 6 lemons
- 1 ½ cups /300 grams sugar
- 2 large eggs plus 3 yolks
- 1 ½ teaspoons /5 grams cornstarch
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 4 tablespoons /57 grams butter
- ¼ cup /60 milliliters fruity extra-virgin olive oil
- Confectioners’ sugar
Make the shortbread
Heat oven to 325 degrees and line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with enough parchment to hang over two of the sides (to be used as handles later to lift the bars out of the pan).
To make the shortbread base, pulse together the flour, granulated sugar, confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and salt in a food processor, or whisk together in a large bowl. Add butter and pulse (or use two knives or your fingers) to cut the butter into the flour until a crumbly dough forms. Press dough into prepared pan and bake until shortbread is pale golden all over, 30 to 35 minutes.
Make the curd
Grate 1/2 tablespoon zest from lemons and set aside. Squeeze lemons to yield 3/4 cup juice.
In a small saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, sugar, eggs and yolks, cornstarch and fine sea salt over medium heat until boiling and thickened, 2 to 5 minutes. Make sure mixture comes to a boil or the cornstarch won’t activate. But once it boils do not cook for longer than 1 minute or you risk the curd thinning out again. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl. Whisk in butter, olive oil and lemon zest.
When the shortbread is ready, take it out of the oven and carefully pour the lemon curd onto the shortbread base; return the pan to the oven. Bake until topping is just set, 10 to 15 minutes more. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold before cutting into bars. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and flaky sea salt right before serving.
Adapted from New York Times