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Old 01-28-2010, 04:51 AM   #1
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Cracks on my lemon bars?

Hi all, would appreciate knowing why my lemon bars get cracks all over the surface. Here are the ingredients:

Crust:
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp iodised salt
Filling:
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp iodised salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ pcs lemons, juiced
  • 2 pcs eggs, beaten gently
  • Confectioner’s sugar for sprinkling

Oven is heated to 350 degrees. Crust is baked first for 20 min. Cooled. Filling is added on top of crust. Baked again for 20 min. There are already some cracks when I take it out of the oven. Then after cooling on a rack one hour, even more cracks appear!

I'd like to know what I'm doing wrong in order to prevent these cracks from happening. Thank you.

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Old 01-28-2010, 07:31 AM   #2
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You filling mixture could be too dry. What size pan are you using?
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:22 AM   #3
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I think Andy has hit on it. Maybe add another beaten egg and another splash of lemon juice? Heres the recipe I use to compare. It is a no brainer and no fail.

My other suggestion would be to increase the moisture in your oven. Do a bain marie kind of set up and that might help. Maybe a cookie sheet with water in it under your bar pan while it bakes?
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:34 AM   #4
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I'm guessing your oven might be a bit off. Get an oven thermometer and check that out. Overcooking is the first thing I thought of.

That often also happens with cheesecake. Things continue to cook from the inside out after you remove them from the oven. If you think the middle looks a bit undercooked, go ahead and pull them anyway. The residual heat will finish the job, and you may eliminate the cracks.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:57 AM   #5
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Andy, I use an 8"x8" pan. You're probably right.

Alix, I checked your recipe and I remember now that my original recipe was closer to your proportions. Ok, I 'fess up. The recipe I posted above is the result of my tweaking.

My original recipe called for 1 C sugar but because it was too sweet, I reduced it to 3/4 C which now explains the dryness. Since I don't want to add more lemon juice (and acidity) to make up for the dryness, I'll try to put a pan of water underneath next time.

Thanks to you both!

By the way, can someone explain what is the function of the baking powder in the filling here? I've tried the recipe with and without it and the only difference is that the one with baking powder had some not very attractive bubbles on the surface. Volume-wise, there was no difference. TIA!
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Old 01-28-2010, 11:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefJune View Post
I'm guessing your oven might be a bit off. Get an oven thermometer and check that out. Overcooking is the first thing I thought of.

That often also happens with cheesecake. Things continue to cook from the inside out after you remove them from the oven. If you think the middle looks a bit undercooked, go ahead and pull them anyway. The residual heat will finish the job, and you may eliminate the cracks.
That's what I thought. I always thought that cracking in custards (or those recipes that are proportionately higher in egg) was caused by overcooking/ too hot/ too fast cool-down. It has something to do with the proteins in the eggs. At least that's what I remember reading. I, too, take my cheesecake/crème brûlée/custard bars out when they look "not quite done". Actually, I turn off the oven and slide a wooden spoon in the door to gently "vent" the heat out with the dish still inside.

Perhaps it's a combination of things. You could try to change the cooking temp/time first, then tweak the recipe to add moisture if that doesn't work. Or visa versa. Good luck. I know the cracks don't hurt anything, but they say you eat with your eyes first.
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