Kathryn’s Lemon Squares

Dear Claire and Eden,

 Back in the 80’s your dad and I played cards every weekend with our friends Kathryn and Ryan Ennis, and we cooked.  We all got married about the same time and before that, Ryan was one of your dad’s roommates. Card night started when we were all single. Many a new recipe was developed during those evenings, and this is one of them. Kathryn’s lemon squares will always be a favorite. You know I love all things lemon. I modified Kathryn’s recipe a bit because I like a slightly tart filling.  Sometimes I add  tablespoon of finely ground Earl Grey tea to the dough of the crust or 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans. 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position the rack in the center of the oven. Line an 8 or 9 inch-square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper leaving overhang on all sides. 

For the Crust:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 12 pieces

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a food  processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in 4 times. Add butter slices and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal (some pea-sized pieces of butter will remain) and will stick together if squeezed into ball, about twelve 1-second pulses. Sprinkle dough into prepared pan.

Use the back of a measuring cup to press the crumb mixture to form a crust.

Bake until light golden brown, 20 - 25 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven, but keep the oven on.

Filling (lemon curd):

While the crust is baking, make the lemon curd.

6 eggs 

4 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

3 tablespoons cream

Whisk eggs, yolks, sugar, and salt together in saucepan. Add the zest and lemon juice and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened and pudding-like, about 5 to 8 minutes. Don’t worry if you have bits of scrambled egg in your curd. Press the filling through a fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl. Whisk in the butter and cream.

Pour the lemon curd over crust and tilt to spread evenly. Bake until filling is set, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour, then, cut into 12 squares. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. (Squares will keep in airtight container in refrigerator for 3 days. 

 I love serving the lemon squares with berries and whipped cream as a dessert, in which case I cut 9 squares instead of 12.  

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