I grew up in a very conservative town, and my nose ring, pink hair and green Doc Martens cast me as a bit of an outsider. But, that doesn’t mean I was alone. I developed some wonderful friendships in high school, and still carry on those friendships to today.
One terrific friend in particular was Caitlyn Webster. I haven’t seen Caitlyn in years — she’s spent the past five years living in Thailand as a web designer. Thailand is pretty darn far away from Western Mass. where we’re from, so whenever Caitlyn would feel homesick, she’d bake all sorts of wonderful things that she used to bake with her grandmother growing up. Her baking became so popular that she ended up writing a book “American Baking by Cee!” — in both Thai and English on facing pages. It’s full of her adventures baking American treats like chocolate chip cookies and the WORLD’S BEST LEMON BARS.
If you’re interested in getting hold of Caitlyn’s wonderful cookbook, please feel free to contact me. In the meantime, check out her gorgeouswebsite about Thai cooking.
Caitlyn will be moving back stateside in the next year to settle down in Portland, Oregon. I’m really looking forward to having a visit with my dear friend from high school, and do things like, as she said this week, “ride our bicycles, go to farmers’ markets, and hear live music.” I can’t wait, but in the meantime, I have her lemon bars, and now you can, too.
The nice thing about this recipe is that it’s all stuff you should have in your pantry, and even the perishables are things you should keep on hand in your fridge. Lemons are always at least two for a dollar, anywhere. Eggs are always a good thing to have on hand, except these. I have no preference on a brand of butter. For me, the cheapest works just fine. If you see butter on sale, buy a few boxes and store them in the freezer. It will always thaw beautifully and be good to go for baking things, shmearing things, or frying things in a jiffy.
From American Baking by Cee!
Makes 12-16 pieces (one 8×8 pan)
Don’t fret if you don’t have a stand mixer. In fact, Caitlyn uses no machines at all in her entire book. All her baking can be and is done by hand.
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup fresh lemon juice [I use a whole lemon — MP]
½ cup all purpose flour
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350.
- To make the crust: cream the butter and sugar until soft. Add the flour and salt and mix. Press evenly into an ungreased pan and cook for 12 – 15 minutes until lightly browned.