Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lemon Squares, or Cooking in Someone Else's Kitchen, Part II

For my mother-in-law's birthday I whipped up some delicious lemon squares.  I love lemon squares.  I chose them for her birthday dessert because 1) I knew she and my father-in-law love lemon desserts and 2) you could easily freeze a few and save them for later--who eats a whole cake anyway?

I didn't have a recipe off hand, so I trusted the-always-reliable Martha Stewart to put me on the path to lemon squares.  (I won't lie; I love Martha--in fact, I named my (pastel) bicycle after her.)  Check out her website for the recipe.

Unlike my experience baking my mother's birthday cake, my lemon square adventure did not involve any kitchen equipment drama. I was, again, cooking in someone else's kitchen.  At this point, all of our stuff was still in storage, and my grandmother's kitchen is still full of essentials.  The tricky part was remembering where she kept everything.

I don't have a food processor (it broke), so to make the crust, I sliced cold butter, added it to the dry ingredients, and used my fingers to rub in the butter.  It's actually kind of fun!

The only problem I encountered while cooking in someone else's kitchen was the oven.  I don't think it was as hot as it claimed to be (its an old oven).  Every oven is different, and the great part of cooking in your own kitchen is you know its quirks.  For example, my oven in Delaware cooked hotter on one side than the other, so I had to be sure to turn the pan halfway through.

After cooking the squares for the allotted period of time, they weren't looking set--in fact, the consistency was still liquid. Using my kitchen smarts, I continued baking until it was set all the way through.  I'll admit, I was pretty nervous that I'd screw it all up and have no dessert to bring to the in-laws.

Yet, my smarts proved true and the lemon squares finally set and came out nice!  They could have cooked a little more (the middle ones were still pretty soft) but I didn't want to risk it--being that I had never made them before and didn't know what they were supposed to look like.

I couldn't find a sifter, so I just sprinkled the powdered sugar on by hand--which isn't as pretty.  But, equally delicious.

One of my recommendations regarding lemon-flavored desserts: ALWAYS use fresh lemon juice.  It makes such a difference!

And, a tip regarding ovens: Get an oven thermometer.  Mine is broken so I have to get a new one.  They are pretty cheap and changed my baking life!  Its amazing how wrong your oven can be! but by trusting your oven thermometer, you know exactly how hot your oven is and when its preheated.  Go buy one!

Any other funny oven experiences?

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