Thursday, April 26, 2012
Lemon Crumble Bars and a Sweet Visit
While on our road trip last week, I didn’t have a chance to cook very much other than preparing a few simple meals in the little RV kitchen like scrambled eggs, burritos and spaghetti. I felt like I was playing house!
After four days of eating on the road, though, we were delighted to roar into Boulder, CO (remember the broken muffler pipe?) and be welcomed by our dear friends, Elaine and Greg, their two beautiful daughters ... and an amazing meal. Greg started us off with lemon drop martinis on their deck, where the scent of blooming lilacs filled the air.
We then sat down to grilled salmon and veggies, roasted potatoes, and salad with Parmesan and toasted pine nuts – all heavenly, I must say. For dessert, Elaine baked some luscious lemon bars with a creamy filling, shortbread crust and crumble topping. A perfect treat to end the meal!
It warmed my heart to see our two families gathered around the table together. Elaine and I met when we were in 9th grade. I had just transferred into our local junior high school and Elaine was a welcoming friend, brimming with kindness and confidence. We began passing volumes of notes to each other in the hallway, and since then ours is a friendship I cherish. Standing in Elaine’s kitchen last week, picking bits of crumble out of the pan together and chatting ... sigh, just like old times.
I’m excited to be home again in my kitchen, which to be honest, is not much larger than the RV’s and I love every inch of it. Elaine graciously gave me the lemon bar recipe and I couldn’t wait to bake a pan to share with you. I tweaked the recipe just a bit to include some rye flour, my current favorite I turn to when baking these days.
Lemon Crumble Bars
Adapted slightly from Creme de Colorado Cookbook, The Junior League of Denver, Inc.
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoons lemon zest
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup rye flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup oats
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8x12 baking dish.
Stir the condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon zest together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together until creamy. Add the flours, baking powder and salt. Sprinkle in the oats and, using your fingers, mix until crumbly.
Press half of the crumbs onto the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Pour the milk mixture over it and spread evenly. Scatter the remaining crumbs over the top and gently press to create a topping.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until it is set and begins to brown. Let cool and chill for a couple of hours before cutting. You can prepare the bars a day ahead.