This blog post is in honour of my friend, Erica Stark.
Erica left our world far too soon; she had things to do, plans to make, trips to take, sons and a husband to love. She left behind those sons, that husband, an extended family including her parents - all grieving their sudden and completely unexpected loss, and still in disbelief three months later.
She also left behind a large circle of devastated friends. She left behind a community, still surprised by her daily absence in the school yard, still looking for her at meetings and events. This community was strong when she was here, and has strangely become stronger since that fateful day. This strength is one of the gifts Erica left for us.
Erica loved to cook and bake for her family and friends, and sometimes even for strangers. Another gift that she left for us was a collection of recipes she shared with various friends and members of the community. In the weeks after her death, people shared stories of Erica and more often than not, the story was centred around food, or involved someone loving a recipe that had been shared by Erica.
I posted an Erica Stark recipe many moons ago, it was for her Lemon Loaf, a favourite in her home and now in ours as well (http://richlerrecipes.blogspot.com/2013/02/favourite-lemon-loaf.html). This recipe for Lemon Squares is not an Erica recipe, but I know she would have loved it because it is lemon and we shared a fondness for a good, tart, and fresh dessert. It's for this reason that I dedicate this post to her.
I miss you, Erica. Bye for now.
Ingredients (my edits are in brackets)
Yield: 16 squares
Note that these are in no way healthy! ~170 calories and close to 7g of fat each if you follow Alice's measurements. Slightly less if you use mine.
8 tbsp butter
1/4 granulated sugar (I used 1/8 cup - Erica and I both liked to cut back on sugar in recipes as much as possible)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract (always use real vanilla)
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar (I used 2/3 cup)
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (I used the grated rind of two lemons, which is more than 1 1/2 tsp)
1/2 cup strained fresh lemon juice (about two lemons)
2-3 tbsp powdered sugar, for dusting
Melt the butter in the microwave or in a pan on the stove. Remove from the heat and mix the sugar into the butter. Then add the vanilla and salt and stir again. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated. The mixture will appear crumbly in the bowl.
Line an 8" x 8" baking pan with either parchment paper or aluminum foil. Press the crust mixture into the pan evenly.
Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.
While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.
Stir the flour and sugar together in your mixing bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid but you can also do this by hand).
Add the eggs and mix together on medium speed for about a minute.
Add the lemon zest and juice and mix again.
When the crust is ready, pull out the rack without removing the pan from the oven (I actually took mine out of the oven so I could take a photo - and they turned out just fine). Pour the lemon mix into the pan.
Turn the oven temperature down to 300 F and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the centre is not jiggly anymore (this was 20 minutes in my oven).
Once completely cooled, lift the foil or parchment to release the large square from the oven and peel the foil/paper away from the edges.
Put some powdered sugar into a strainer and dust on top of the squares.
Perfect with a cup of tea. Enjoy!
Note: I believe it would be possible to make this recipe gluten-free if you were to replace the all-purpose flour with a gluten free flour mix.