Thursday, 23 June 2011

Florida Lemon Squares

I don’t know about this Florida place after which Maida names so many of her recipes. I’ve seen Dexter, and there were no lemon squares or brownies or biscuits in evidence there, unless his emotionally manipulative wife made them before that scene with the bath, you know that scene. She was more of a pancake-in-a-bottle type though, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But these ugly wonders from Maida’s Book of Great Cookies are pretty good, wholesome and lemony and full of texture – all about character rather than looks. And most forgiving of my numerous workarounds.

220g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can condensed milk
Finely grated zest 1 large lemon
1/2 cup lemon juice
150g butter
200g dark brown sugar, firmly packed (I used half light-brown and half dark muscovado)
100g oatmeal (I used rolled oats)

Preheat oven to 180C.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Pour the condensed milk into a bowl, zest over the lemon and gradually add the lemon juice, whisking to keep the mixture smooth. Set aside.

Cream the butter, add sugar and beat well. On low speed gradually add the dry ingredients, beating only until combined. Mix in the oats. The mixture will be as dry and loose as that for apple crumble, which it basically is.

Sprinkle about 2 cups of the oatmeal mixture evenly over the bottom of a 9" x 13" pan lined with baking paper (I used a 7" x 9"). Pat the crumbs firmly (or get the coffee tamper onto it) to make a smooth, compact layer.

Pour the lemon mixture evenly over the crumb layer and spread with a spatula to evenness. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the lemon layer. It’s okay if a bit of the lemon layer shows through in spots (though it won’t if you’ve used a much smaller pan than recommended).

Bake for 35 minutes until lightly coloured (mine took 55 to achieve any colour). Cool completely in pan, then refrigerate for at least an hour (or overnight) before removing from pan and baking paper to cut into small squares. Some icing sugar sifted over can help with their appearance. Serve fridge-cold. Or, I infer, they’d be as tooth-curlingly sweet as Rita Morgan and oozing condensed milk besides.

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