Lavender Lemon Bars

This Saturday I participated in the blogger-organized NYC Bake Sale to support No Kid Hungry – a charity organization dedicated to eradication of child hunger. I’ve been feeling spring-tastic, so I decided to get fresh and floral with some lemon lavender bars. And to package them in ridiculous pastel-colored boxes with teacup cutout windows.

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My love of lavender is well documented – and is such that I usually keep a bag of cooking lavender hanging around. It can be a pretty polarizing flavor; I know a bunch of people who can’t shake it’s soapy associations, but I just adore the way it works with lemon.

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These bars didn’t come, I must confess, from a vintage cookbook; I found them in Damon Lee Fowler’s New Southern Baking. I did look in older books for a lemon bar recipe, but it seems there is a big lemon-shaped gap in my collection. Though his book was published less than 10 years ago, Damon Lee Fowler has enough of an appreciation for cooking history (he prefaces all his recipes with a brief blurb about their origins) that I feel I can justify use of his recipes.

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These lemon bars were apparently borrowed from a nice southern lady named Julie Hooper. Ms. Hooper’s bars are the exact kind I like: 1-to-1 crust-to-filling ratio, and lots of lemon juice and zest. Enough tang to hold up to a little added lavender.

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Yep – told you those boxes were ridiculous. They all sold out, though – along with all the other delicious goods supplied by local bloggers and bakeries. Three cheers to the co-coordinators: Lillian from Sweets by Sillianah and Ken from Hungry Rabbit! And to all the generous and dedicated bakers and donors – and our host, the Brooklyn Flea.

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Lemon Lavender Bars (Makes 24)

For the Crust:
1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar
2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp. dried lavender, chopped or ground finely

For the Filling:
4 eggs, beaten
2 c. granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
6 tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice (2 large lemons)
1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 pan and line with parchment paper.
2. Use a food processor or pastry cutter to combine the crust ingredients until they have a cornmeal-like consistency, but hold together. Press this mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan and prick with the tines of a fork.
3. Bake for 20 minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden brown.
4. As the crust cools a bit, make the filling. Combine the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest and whisk until blended. Sift the flour and baking powder over the top of this mixture and mix until it starts to lighten just a bit.
5. Pour the filling over the crust and bake for 25 minutes, until the filling is set.
6. Cool completely and cut into 24 squares.

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