This past weekend, we went scouting for wedding venues. It’s only been a few weeks since the engagement, but I wanted to move fast to secure a nice venue for this year. Apparently this wasn’t fast enough. The first venue I visited was THE venue – my magical forest wonderland. Unfortunately they were completely booked for 2016 (!), so I put a hold for Spring 2017. I’ll continue to shop around, but it’s hard to imagine anything topping this one.
The venue is family-owned and run. In fact, the private grounds were initially built for personal use. Hosting weddings was something the owners stumbled upon and continue to do out of love for the work. After the tour, our host sent us home with a bag of blood oranges grown by his father. Of course, my baking mind begin to think of ways to use the fruit. I decided to try orange bars – I love lemon bars, so why not?
I took the classic lemon bar recipe from Joy the Baker, subbed in oranges, reduced the sugar, and added vanilla extract. The results were delicious, not too sweet, and way too addicting. The chewy corners are my favorite part and accentuate the buttery crust. Try to not eat the whole tray in one sitting. 😀
This recipe is easy to make and uses basic pantry staples. The amount of sugar can be adjusted depending on how sweet or tart the oranges are. They can be served at room temp, but I prefer them chilled. You can double the recipe and bake in a 9×13 inch pan. Probably not a bad idea, as these will run out quick!
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 2-3 medium oranges)
- 1-2 teaspoon orange zest (about 1 orange)
- Powdered Sugar
- Orange Zest
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8×8 inch baking pan.
2. For the crust: Using a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add in flour, salt, and vanilla. Beat on low speed until dough is incorporated. The dough will be crumbly.
3. Pour the crust into the prepared pan and press the dough into a thin layer until it covers the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until just browned around the edges.
4. For the filling: While the crust is baking, make the filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder, orange juice, zest and whisk until blended.
5. Pour the filling onto the warm, baked crust. Return to oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the center is set. Bubbles are fine and will shrink when cooled.
6. Cool completely in the pan. Cut into squares or rectangles. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and/or orange zest. Serve at room temp or chill in fridge for a firmer texture. Bars can be stored in airtight containers, separated with wax paper.