Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Baking for the health conscious (lemon bars)

"Oh no thanks, I don't eat sweets."

How a baker (whether amateur or professional) reacts to this is wholly dependent on their personality. To some it would be like a kick in the teeth, "what do you mean you don't eat sweets? I don't understand. But I made them". Others can be more relaxed about it, "oh yeah no worries. Have fun with your kale". But when it's told to someone as, admittedly, stubborn as I am, my response more often than not is "challenged accepted".

Growing up with a health-nut for an uncle has definitely shaped that. I say health-nut but really he just tries to be aware of what he's putting in his body combined with someone who actually doesn't really like sweets. He's the type that will never eat the cake and always brought a fruit tart whenever we had a family dinner. (Something I hated as a kid but now find myself eating it more often than not. They're so good.) He actually portions his meals out the way people should be doing as opposed to doing it based on how big the plate is. He's apparently always been this way because somewhere along the way my mom figured out that there was actually something that she could bake and he would eat. Lemon bars.

I think it's because of that crisp lemon flavor. The citrus family help lighten up your desserts in terms of flavor and can, at least I think, trick your mind into thinking you're eating something healthier than  you really are.

Which is why they've become my go-to baked good anytime I'm baking for someone who doesn't like sweets. You may not like sweets but I bet you'll still be eating these days later (you know, after I've sent you home with all of the leftovers). And you can't even be mad about it, that's their superpower.

Man do I love these lemon bars. They're not too sweet and full of lemon, two things I demand in my lemon bar. They have a more gooey texture over a cake-y one but the shortbread-like bottom help hold them together.

Just don't cut them when they're still warm. Disaster may ensue.

And they can be gluten free! Just switch the all-purpose flour for a 1-1 gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill the last time I made them gluten free) and there you have it!

Lemon bars
makes 16 squares

1 stick butter
1 C flour
1/4 C powdered sugar

Combine, either by hand or in a mixer, until the dough is the consistency of shortbread. It's one step further than when you combine them so the dough feels like sand. Once you get to the sand texture, keep mixing and it'll come together in a ball which makes it way easier to work with.

Press the dough into a greased 8x8 pan and work it until the dough is up around the sides and even. Prick with a fork and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

2 eggs
1 C sugar
2 T flour
1/2 t baking powder
juice of 3 lemons (mine were SUPER juicy, you may need 4)

Mix together the remaining ingredients, poor over baked crust and bake again at 350 for 25 minutes. Finished lemon bars will have a golden crust, and the top will appear solid but if you move the pan there's still a slight wobble. Leave them to cool, cut and serve.

What leftovers?

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