Baking with B: Amy’s Classic Lemon Squares

As we get older falling out of touch with old friends is a fact of life. Let’s face it: stuff happens. When we’re burdened with responsibilities we tend to pare life down to its essentials and sometimes it means losing contact with someone who was dear to us. Add in some misunderstandings and well, like I said…s#%! happens.

In my life, Amy is one of those people and once upon a time she asked me to make lemon squares for my blog because they’re her favorite. Luckily, a mutual friend of ours had a recipe that was tried, tested and true. We made some for her over the holidays and they were so good I thought I would share them with you as well. They’re super lemony without being too tart, and the buttery crust is surprisingly easy to make.

So cheers to you, Ameballs. We hope you liked your squares.

Amy’s Classic Lemon Squares (makes 36)

For the crust:

2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. powdered sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 c., plus 2 tbsp butter, chilled and cubed

For Filling:

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp lemon zest

3/4 c. lemon juice

1/4 c. cream

powdered sugar (for dusting)

To make the crust, preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl combine flour, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Press mixture into the bottom of a greased 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Bake 18-20 minutes until the edges are golden.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling: combine eggs, granulated sugar, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice and cream in a bowl. Remove crust from oven and pour filling over the top. Return to the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes more or until the center is set.

B’s Tip: Test if your lemon curd is set by giving it a little bit of a wiggle, wiggle. If it’s wobbly like Jello, it’s not quite ready.

Cool completely in pan on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Cover and store in the refrigerator (or make them ahead of time and put them in the freezer!)

Baking with B appears every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.

This is one of those recipes that I would call a “classic”- one of those down-home, feel-good dishes that everyone should learn how to make! Find more timeless recipes like this click here.

Baking with B: Classic Rice Pudding with Fresh Raspberries

If any of you follow me and the saga of my porch garden on Instagram you’ll know that I have a couple of raspberry plants that over the summer have produced the occasional fruit. (To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations to begin with so I was happy I got any berries at all.)

Well, wouldn’t you know, mere days before October arrives, these little plants decide to wake up and grow raspberries like there’s no tomorrow. They’re pretty teensy and tart, but there’s a fresh crop coming out each day. However, I still didn’t have quite enough to bake with so I had to rack my brain to figure out what I could do with them.

Enter rice pudding: one of the greatest desserts to make when you have practically nothing in your pantry and you’re craving something sweet. It’s creamy with a hint of vanilla and it’s the perfect delivery method for sweet-tart raspberries (although really, I think any fruit will do).

Oh, and did I mention it’s actually pretty easy to make? See what I mean for yourself…

Classic Rice Pudding with Fresh Raspberries (makes approx. 4 servings)

(loosely based on the recipe found here)

3/4 c. uncooked white rice (short or medium grain is best)

2 c. milk

2 tbsp vanilla custard powder

1/3 c. white sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp butter

raspberries, to taste (or fruit of your choice)

Note: I used vanilla custard powder in this recipe because it gave me such a rich, creamy vanilla flavor. The original recipe suggests adding 1/2 tsp vanilla extract at the very end, which is perhaps a little more traditional than my method.

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 c. of water to boil. Add rice and let simmer on low, covered for approximately 20 minutes.

Whisk custard powder in with milk until dissolved. In a separate saucepan, bring 1 1/2 c. of milk to a slow boil, stirring occasionally to prevent scalding. Add in cooked rice and sugar, stirring to combine. Let simmer on low for 15-20 minutes until texture becomes quite thick.

B’s Tip: I suggest adding the sugar last to your mixture because I added it first while the milk is still heating up. That’s ok, too, but if you’re not watching it (and I wasn’t) the sugar will end up caramelizing and burning at the bottom of your pan, making it hotter than you really want it to be. On the bright side, I ended up with all these really delicious flakes of burnt sugar scattered throughout my pudding. It was a lemons-into-lemonade kind of situation.

Stir in remaining 1/2 c. milk (you may want to give it a slight whisk beforehand) and beaten egg. Stir to combine and let cook for two minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Let pudding sit for 10 minutes before serving. Scatter with raspberries (or fruit of your choice.

Rice pudding can be served hot or cold, but I prefer it slightly warm because that’s when the texture feels just right. (So creamy! So vanilla-y!) If you’re not a fan of rice pudding because all you’ve had is the gelatinous, cold stuff from the grocery store, I ask you to try this recipe and reconsider. It may have a reputation as a dessert for the elderly, but I think you’ll find it’s actually delicious for all ages.

Happy baking!

B

Baking with B appears (usually) every other Monday on the Keeping Busy with B Blog. Find out why I like baking so much here. For more of my baking, click here. And for even more recipe inspiration, check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.

The Legend of the Book of Yum

kbb_book_of_yum

When I went away to university it was the first time I had been away from home. I wasn’t sure what to expect: would I love the freedom? Would I totally freak out? Either way I knew that I was going to be really homesick.

My solution was The Book of Yum and it started out as kind of a joke between my university friends and I.

In anticipation of missing my mom’s cooking, I painstakingly wrote out some of our family’s favorite recipes in a small black binder, organized using homemade construction paper dividers. Also included were some helpful cooking hints for myself on how to make the basics; for example, tips on making rice nice and fluffy, and how to make your basic white sauce. I was reluctant to call it a recipe binder because it felt more like a compendium of my mother’s advice, and a piece of my family’s culinary history. So I called it “The Book of Yum”, made some dorky labels for it and took it to college with me.

Anyone who has had roommates knows that it’s hard to keep a secret from them, so it didn’t take long before people started to take note of the little binder I was always toting into the kitchen with me. Maybe it was the colorful labels, or the fact that no one I knew had completed a similar project.

Mostly I think The Book of Yum caught people’s attention because I was one of the few people in my group of friends that could actually cook. And bake.

This was the start of a whole new college culinary adventure. While a lot of kids were out partying you could often find me at home with my roommates attempting to develop a garnish for fish, bake a pie from scratch, or experiment with a foreign food. (Ok, maybe I found some time for partying too.)

In some ways, it was my college years that fostered my love of cooking and food. I tried every kind of food, in every kind of restaurant in town and I always had a hungry mouth nearby willing to try whatever it was I was making that day. It was a time of firsts: my first pastry dough, my first experiment with phyllo, and my first roast.

It was also during these years that I discovered how cooking for others felt like a gift more to myself than a gift for them. Nothing gave me more pleasure than watching my friends enjoy something I had created and nothing made me appreciate food more than the act of making it myself.

More than anything, though, The Book of Yum was a way for me to honor my family; both my love for them and the traditions that we build and maintain.

I still have it too, even though it’s expanded to accommodate my expanded culinary horizons. Even though that little black binder has transformed, it still opens a floodgate of sense memories as soon as I lift the cover. No matter how successful I end up being in my writing career, I’ll still consider one of my favorite books that I’ve written.

You may not know it, but you’ve read part of The Book of Yum too! If you were looking at it now, you’d recognize these Chocolate Brownies, these Butterscotch Brownies, these Banana Muffins, these Chocolate Banana Cookies, these Sugar Cookies, these Maple Syrup Muffins, this Apple Pie and this Zucchini Bread. I hope you enjoyed them as much as my family and friends have!

KBwB-BFlower-50I’d love to hear about your own recipe collection. Which childhood recipes do you still include in your repertoire? Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or comment below. I’d love to try one out!

I try out a new recipe every two weeks or so and blog about the results, so if you need even more baking inspiration, you can find the complete list in alphabetical order here.