We’ve been having a deluge of rain in the San Francisco Bay Area this winter, and typically when it rains, I either stay at home and cook or I dream about getting away and being somewhere nice.
This past wet holiday weekend, I spent the day doing both as I baked lemon bars from the cookbook “Montreal Cooks,” which are recipes from that city’s popular restaurants and chefs. It made me want to visit this favorite Canadian city, even though it’s probably being slammed by snow. Still, I have fond memories of my trip there so flipped through the cookbook for a recipe.
I found this lemon bars recipe from Chef Tamera Clark, who owns the Rustique bake shop in the St. Henri neighborhood of Montreal. The recipe is actually pretty simple, and the end result isn’t super sweet. It’s a challenge, though, cooking everything evenly so it probably will take me some practice to get the shortbread crust just right.
What’s also nice is the lemon filling actually becomes a very thin layer, so it’s not a lot of calories per bite. At least that’s what I told myself as I ate one after the other while it rained outside and I caught up with the latest season of “Chef’s Table” on Netflix.
Rustique’s Lemon Bars
Excerpted from “Montreal Cooks” (Figure.1, 2015)
Makes 12 huge bars
Ingredients for shortbread crust
1/2 lb. cold butter, diced
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 t salt
Ingredients for filling
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 T lemon zest
5 large eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
icing sugar for dusting (aka confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13X18-inch baking sheet that has a 1-inch rim with parchment paper.
Combine all ingredients for crust in a food processor and pulse until the mixture has a sand-like consistency. Lightly press the shortbread dough evenly into the pan, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until very light brown. Transfer to wire rack and cool while you prepare the filling.
For the filling, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and lemon zest. Set aside.
In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs and lemon juice. When you’re ready to bake the bars, gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until smooth (the filling will be come gummy if it sits too long).
Pour the lemon filling over the cooled shortbread crust and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the filling is set. (Should be firm yet still soft to the touch.) Remove from oven and allow the bars to cool to room temperature.
Cut the bars into any size you want. Dust with icing sugar and serve Will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
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