When Amy gave us her preferences for her custom-made cookie, I immediately latched onto her choices of lemon and ginger. I am a huge fan of ginger and I think ginger and lemon go together well. I wanted to give the traditional lemon bar a spicy twist, so I attempted to make a lemon-ginger bar.
Most recipes only have the lemon curd sitting atop the crust, but I wanted it to have more ginger in palpable chunks, so I added a crumb topping that has candied ginger in it, for extra zip.
This recipe is based on David Lebovitz’s lemon bar recipe but I made quite a few changes, both in adding ginger, but also subtracting some sugar, making some lemon switches, etc.
Although I didn’t win our in-house baking showdown, I was really thrilled with how these turned out. I don’t normally go for lemon bars when I see them, but I really enjoyed these. And, Jess, you’d better watch your back– I’m coming for you when we have our next Baking Deathmatch.
Lemon-Ginger Bars (adapted from David Lebovitz)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup minus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
8 tbsp melted unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1 lemon, organic or unsprayed (approx 6 oz.)
1 cup minus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp freshly squeezed Meyer Lemon juice
3 large eggs, room temperature
4 tsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp melted unsalted butter
1 segment Meyer lemon (peeled, so it’s just the pulp)
1 cup flour
1/3 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp cold butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line an 8-inch square pan with foil, smoothing it out as best you can, so that the foil extends over the edges of the pan.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, 1/4 cup minus 1 tsp granulated sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 8 tbsp melted butter, 1/4 c. ginger, and vanilla, stirring until just smooth. It’ll be a kind of crumbly ball– don’t worry. Smooth the batter into the bottom of the pan, using your hands or a spatula to get it as level as possible.
Bake the crust for 25 minutes, or until it’s deep golden brown. While the crust is baking, get started on the topping. Lebovitz’s recipe requires a whole lemon, so it has a slightly bitter taste, but that is due to the rind (the white part of the lemon). I wanted to temper the bitterness ever so slightly by using Meyer Lemon juice, which is sweeter than regular lemon, and adding a segment of Meyer Lemon to the mix.
Before cutting the organic lemon into chunks, cut the two nubby ends off the top and bottom, close enough so that when you cut it, you see the beginning of the pulp, rather than the rind. You’ll remove a good portion of excess bitter rind that way. Cut the rest of the lemon into pieces, removing the seeds.
Place the lemon pieces into a food processor along with the sugar, Meyer Lemon juice and Meyer Lemon segment. Run the food processor until the lemon is broken up. Add the eggs, corn starch, salt, and 3 tbsp melted butter, and blend until almost smooth.
When the crust comes out of the oven, reduce the heat of the oven to 300 degrees F. Pour the filling over the hot crust and bake for 17-18 minutes to set the filling enough so it can support the crumb topping.
While the filling is cooking, combine all of the topping ingredients into a medium bowl, with the exception of the cold butter. Don’t worry if the topping is chunky– do not overmix it, but instead it should have the consistency of chunky, damp sand. Add in the cold butter and break it up into chunky pieces with a spatula, adding more texture to the topping.
Once the filling is set, take the pan out carefully and raise the temperature back to 350 degrees F. Gently add the topping, taking care not to break the filling. You’ll have more topping than you need; I picked out the chunks of sugar/flour/butter covered ginger and made sure there was a large proportion of it in the topping, and discarded the excess once the bars were completely covered.
Slide the bars back into the oven for 40 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Take the bars out of the oven and let them cool completely before cutting, or better yet, once they’re room temperature, refrigerate them prior to cutting for more precise cuts.
Lemony, gingery goodness!