Here’s a recipe that you can start making now with Persian (aka regular, everyday) lemons and keep making until Meyer lemons turn up. It’s a play on lemon squares but it’s got French flair and plenty of raspberries – inside and out. And it’s an adaptation of Lemon Squares, French Style, a recipe that’s in Baking Chez Moi, Recipes From My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere.
The recipe is a cross between traditional lemon squares and a très French lemon-streusel tart. The lemon filling is a quickly made curd, one so good that you might want to make it just to have it in the fridge for toast time. The almond crust and crumbs are made from one recipe – the dough gets pressed in to make the crust and nubbinized to make the streusel. And the raspberries … they’re both a surprise and an open invitation to grab another square.
Like the dough for the crust, the raspberries are used in two different ways. The first handful of berries is scattered across the pre-baked crust and then covered with the curd and streusel. Baked, the flavor of the raspberries deepens and intensifies. The heat seems to turn already delicious raspberries into mega-berries. And then, when the squares are almost fully baked, I add more fresh berries. These stay in the oven just long enough to warm, but not long enough to get jammy. All in all … swell!
By the way, the edges will get very dark – it’s where the curd and sugar caramelize. If you don’t like the edges, you have a choice: you can trim them or send them to me – I love them!
Raspberry and Meyer Lemon Squares
- Crust and Crumbs
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 packages Driscoll’s Raspberries (3 1/2 to 4 cups)
- 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup almond flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
- Lemon Curd Filling
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
- 2/3 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (from 8-10 lemons)
- 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
Working in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, whisk the eggs and sugar together until well blended. Whisk in the zest and lemon juice, then drop in the chunks of butter. Put the saucepan over medium heat and start whisking, taking care to work the whisk into the edges of the pan. If your whisk is too big to clean the edges, switch to a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. Whisk without stop, and, in 8 to 10 minutes, the buttery curd will thicken. It won’t get terribly thick–it thickens more as it chills–but you’ll notice that your whisk leaves tracks. The sign that the curd is ready is a bubble or two burbling to the surface, then popping. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and scrape the curd into a heatproof bowl. Place a piece of plastic film against the surface and refrigerate the curd until it’s cold all the way through. (Packed airtight, the curd can stay in the fridge for a couple of weeks.)
When You’re Ready to Bake
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to about 13 x 17 inches or so that about 2 inches hang over the edge of each side of the pan. Place the parchment paper inside the pan and butter the paper.
To Make the Crust and Crumbs
Put the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a food processor and whir until the mixture is blended. Add the almond flour and blend until smooth. Add the flour and pulse, stopping as needed to scrape the bowl, until you’ve worked the flour into the other ingredients and have moist, bumpy curds of dough. Reach in–if the dough holds together when you pinch it, it’s ready.Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead it gently to gather it together. Cut off one third of the dough, cover it and set it aside. Press the rest of the dough evenly over the bottom of the lined pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork.Bake the crust for 15 – 18 minutes, or until it’s pale golden all over. It will puff a bit and still feel soft to the touch, so judge its readiness by its color. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the crust cool to room temperature.If you’ve turned off the oven, heat it to 375 degrees F again.Scatter 1 package (1 3/4 to 2 cups) of raspberries over the crust. Stir the chilled curd to get it moving then, using a long offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the filling evenly over the berries. Pinch off small pieces of the reserved dough and scatter them over the filling – you’ll have enough dough to almost completely cover the curd.
Bake the lemon squares 30 minutes, rotating the pan after about 20 minutes. Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and scatter the remaining raspberries over the crumbs, gently and lightly pressing them into the topping. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 10 to 13 minutes. The filling will puff – and it should puff all the way to the center – the lemon curd will caramelize around the edges (my favorite part) and the crumbs will be golden brown. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let stand for at least 2 hours (and up to 6 hours) before cutting.
Turn the squares over onto a cutting board or counter, carefully peel away the parchment paper and invert the bars onto a plate so that they are rightside up. Using a long, slender knife, cut the cake into 12 squares, about 3 inches on a side. Serve now or chill – the bars are delicious at room temperature, when the crust is almost as tender as the filling, and just as good chilled, when all the elements are firm but the filling melts in your mouth.
Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if you’d like, just before serving.
Storing: Well wrapped, the squares will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days; wrapped airtight, they can be frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost the squares, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator