Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lemon Pie Bars, a Review, and a Giveaway {CLOSED}

Note: The giveaway is at the end of this post. {GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED}

Have you ever heard that some people are really good at one or two things and some other people are pretty good at a number of things?

Well...I'm the latter type. I have many, many different interests. Mostly, my interests reside on the creative side of things. I like drawing and doing makeup. I've taught myself to knit. I've made wreaths. I've toyed with the idea of writing but figure I'll leave that to people who enjoy it. I've considered interior design. I have a degree in Psychology.

Okay. That last one isn't so much creative. But is it not? I wanted to be a therapist for a very long time. Now I don't think it's for me.

The one thing I haven't swayed on is baking. I love to bake. Baking is in my soul, it's in my blood. It's my history, my heritage, my inheritance.

As a young child, I would sit at my grandma's aged, formica topped table and watch her roll pie crust and form apricot fried hand pies. I remember the smells, the tastes, everything. Thinking of that wonderful, simple time brings me a sense of joy that not much else can.

When I picked up a copy of The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook I thought that it looked like a cute cookbook for which I could do a review and a giveaway. I had no idea what was really in store for me.

This cookbook brings back the thoughts of love and warmth that I used to feel at my grandma's kitchen table. The book provides a sense of love, family, community. I found myself on the verge of tears during the introduction.

This book pulls you in and makes you feel like you are home. At the beginning of each recipe are a few words by Cheryl about why the dish is special enough to be in the cookbook. There are stories of celebration and community hidden among the pages. Introductions to each section take you back into the childhood memories of Cheryl and Griff and make you nostalgic. There's even a poem written by a customer about a favorite cookie they sell in their shop.

The book is full of stunning, vintage like photos. The recipes are simple and easy to understand. There are no big words, the recipes are written as if you were explaining to a friend how to make a beloved recipe.

The book is broken down into 9 chapters:

  1. Breakfast
  2. Coffee Cakes, Quick Breads, and Sweet Yeast Breads
  3. Cupcakes and Cakes
  4. Pies, Cobblers, Crisps, and Tarts
  5. Puddings and Custards
  6. Cookies
  7. Brownies and Bars
  8. Confections
  9. Savories
I have so many recipes on my to make list from this book. Seriously. It's bad. I want to make just about everything in this book.

I will admit. I have tried a number of these recipes. So far I've tried the snickerdoodles, cinnamon biscones with vanilla glaze drizzle, the hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting, and of course, these lemon pie bars. Not one thing on this list has disappointed. 

My dear friend Monica came over the day that I made these lemon pie bars. She decided to make the Drunk Blondies and we ended up trading bars with one another (so I've tried these too. That's 5 recipes so far!). I won't spend a lot of time on these bars because she is blogging about them today. After you are done here, you should pop over and read about these bars as well!!

These lemon pie bars were absolutely amazing. The perfect amount of tang and sweet. The crust was buttery and felt like it melted in your mouth as it gently crumbled upon each bite. The first [few] bars I ate were just the bars by themselves. However, I made some whipped cream for the pictures and fell even more in love with the bars than when they were naked! And I don't even like whipped cream!! But the sweetness and cloud like texture of the whipped cream just enhanced the lemon pie bars and made them extra special.

So without further ado, let's bake!

First, mix together some graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar.

Press the mixture into a pan and bake it up. Take it out to cool.

While the crust is cooling, whip up the filling. Toss together some cream, egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sweetened condensed milk and whisk it until thoroughly combined.

Pour the filling over the cooled crust.

Place in a water bath and bake it until it no longer jiggles. After it has baked, remove the bars from the water bath and let cool to room temperature. Place the pan in the fridge and allow to get really cold.

Slice into bars and top with whipped cream if you are into that kind of thing.

Serve and enjoy!!

Lemon Pie Bars
Adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Printer Friendly Version


For the Crust

  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 24 crackers)
  • 12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
For the Filling
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan and line with parchment, allowing the ends of the paper to hang over two opposite sides of the pan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar with a fork until evenly moistened. 
  3. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan until level.
  4. Bake the crust for 8 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool while preparing the filling.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks until well combined.
  7. Pour filling over the cooled crust and level with a plastic spatula.
  8. Place the baking dish into a larger pan and pour water into the larger pan until the water reaches about halfway up the sides of the smaller pan.
  9. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes or until the center no longer jiggles and the edges are puffed.
  10. Remove pan from water bath and let cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until cold.
  11. Cut bars into squares, top with whipped cream if desired.
  12. Serve and enjoy!

And what good is a cookbook review without a giveaway?? I loved this cookbook SO much that I want to share it with the world. Unfortunately, I can't afford that, so I'm giving one lucky person a copy of this wonderful cookbook. Here are the rules:

To enter this giveaway you MUST answer THIS question in the comments:

1. What is your favorite food/baking memory from back in the day?

For additional entries please leave a comment for each entry:

2. Follow Jolts & Jollies through Google Friend Connect or RSS feed

3. "Like" Jolts & Jollies on Facebook

4. Leave a comment on Monica's drunk blondies saying I sent you (If you are here from Monica's blog, leave an extra comment saying so)

This giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry) and will close at 11:59pm CDT on Tuesday, July 31st.

The thoughts and opinions given in this review are strictly my own. I have not been compensated in any way for this review and am paying for the giveaway copy myself.
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