The Legend of the Lemon Tree

When we moved into our bizarre, hand-built Pacific school arts & crafts house in 1967 there was a big Meyer lemon tree anchoring the multi-colored brick patio in the front. The real estate agent told my parents that the tree was already decades old at the time and wouldn’t bear fruit or last much longer.

That was 44 years ago and the tree is still going strong, yielding bushels of fruit at every season except when it takes a tiny break during the heavy rains. When my brother was young, he used to worry that if we bought any lemons during this time the tree’s feelings would be hurt and it would cease to produce so well in the future. I think he was in his twenties when he hatched this theory…

Because my parents were Yankees, bushels of fruit meant hours of cooking. It ALL had to be used for something — lemonade in summer, lemon marmalade in spring, and lemon curd and squares year round. My mother likes to point out that she was making lemon squares when they were still a novelty bar cookie, not ubiquitous like they are now.

I’m not a fan of lemon desserts in general but lemon squares have a fun variety of textures — chewy shortcake base, tart, fruity topping and that final hit of sweetness from the powdered sugar on top.

The popularity of lemon squares means some bad squares are out there though. See below for the recipe my mother uses, the only one YOU should use. She got it from a friend who brought it from Montreal so it’s a foreign, even vaguely French, recipe. Maybe that’s part of the reason the cookies are so good.

Flo’s Lemon Squares

Ingredients for the crust:

1 cup Earth Balance or butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour

Ingredients for the topping:

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest, finely grated
3 tablespoons powdered sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a jelly roll pan.

Mix crust well with a food processor or by hand and spread flat into the jelly roll pan. Bake for 15 minutes or just till starting to turn golden.

Beat the topping ingredients (except powdered sugar) in a mixer until smooth and pour topping over the still warm crust and bake 25 more minutes or until a toothpick to the center comes out clean.

Sprinkle powdered sugar over the still warm pan of squares but wait till cool to cut. Should yield about 75 squares.

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About bakingnotwriting

I'm a writer who is always baking! Or a baker who is always writing...No. Other way around.
This entry was posted in Baking, Bar cookie, Family recipes, Lemon and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Legend of the Lemon Tree

  1. ruth says:

    yum– you can tell it’s authentic! I need to make some of these ASAP.

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  4. Nili says:

    I have the fondest memories of this tree and the wonderful courtyard for that incredible house. The fact that this recipe comes from Flo and your mom makes it even more special to me and I’m looking forward to making these tonight!

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