"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gather: Leaping Lemon Bars!

 February 29th comes around every four years...I think that's something worth celebrating!

Bring on the baked goods!

So, with my friend Leslie's permission I raided her backyard lemon tree. There's something very gratifying about picking your own fruit...

I was in full virtuous, organic earth-mother mode...except for the fact I had every intention of making something marvelous, fattening and not-necessarily healthful...
In honor of Leap Day, (i.e., something rarely seen) I decided to make lemon bars from scratch instead of buying them from the local Bake & Broil like I usually do...

Although my good friend, Lynne, swears by Martha Stewart's lemon bar recipe (which, in fact, is phenomenal) I chose to work from my girl, Ina Garten's cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Parties!

My husband gave the bars a thumbs up and said they reminded him of lemon curd -rich & creamy. Quite an endorsement!
Barefoot Contessa: (Leaping) Lemon Bars
Makes 20 squares or 40 triangles

For the Crust
1/2 pound   unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup   granulated sugar
2 cups   all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon   kosher salt

For the Filling
6    extra-large eggs at room temperature
3 cups   granulated sugar
2 tablespoons   grated lemon zest (4-6 lemons)
1 cup   freshly squeezed lemon juice (this took about 6 lemons)
1 cup   all-purpose flour

Confectioner's sugar for dusting (I may have gone a bit heavy here...)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until  light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and  press it into a 9x13x2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2 inch edge on all sides. Chill.

 Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the filling is set (this took a little longer for me). Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles or squares and dust with confectioner's sugar.

Enjoy! No actually, savor -tangy, sweet, delish!

Happy Leap Day! (and did I mention that since this day barely exists the calories don't count at all...)

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