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Here's a pic of the ones I made yesterday: http://imgur.com/XTXBlk0

And here is a pic of the consistency that I'm trying to achieve: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3484/3314383525_1912d1d089.jpg

I've had similar experiences with lemon bars as well. The custard part just never comes out how I want. Any ideas?

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Here is the recipe I used: link –  greetification Jul 5 '13 at 17:57
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Some things I'm wondering: (measured) temperature of oven, only baking until filling is set, accurate measurement of ingredients, waiting to cool? If I skip or screw up any of those steps my lemon/lime bars look a little off kind of like yours. Another thing might be the mixer for the filling - sometimes my bars come out foamy on top that way even at low speeds, so I'll sometimes cook the filling first on a stovetop (lemon curd to lemon bar, basically). –  janeylicious Jul 5 '13 at 18:36
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2 Answers 2

It is very difficult to tell what is wrong definitively from your pictures, but the custard appears to be curdled, or have too much air, or both.

When you make the lemon or lime curd, you don't want to mix air into it, which will cause it to puff up, then collapse.

You also don't want to overcook it, as it will curdle like scrambled eggs. You haven't mentioned whether the curd is made stove top or baked in the oven on top of the crust layer. From the look, I am guessing they are baked, and were probably over baked. Lemon curd wants to be cooked to about 170 F (77 C), which is a little lower than a standard custard, due to the high level of acidity making the proteins set at a lower temperature.

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Agree, it looks overcooked to me. –  Michael at Herbivoracious Jul 5 '13 at 20:30
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I agree that it is badly curdled. Custard per se is finicky about curdling, it has an about 10 degrees celsius "right" window - if it doesn't reach that temp, it doesn't set, if it overshoots it, it curdles. Lemon custard is much worse, because the acid curdles proteins even without high temp.

The tricks you can use: 1) warm everything really slow. It is a little-known fact that the speed with which eggs are heated determines the temperature at which they will curdle (source for this counterintuitive statement: Cookwise, a book by the food scientist Corriher).

So, leave your eggs out overnight before starting, so you will be sure that they are room temperature and not fridge temperature. Then set the oven very low. It could be that an experienced cook can get away with 350 as in the recipe, as they may be able to pull it out quickly. You will be on the secure side if you set it to maybe 230 and then bake by internal temperature, as Saj suggested.

Also, if you still experience trouble, you could increase the amount of sugar in the recipe. This will reduce the chance of curdling too.

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adding some powdered sugar can help too. The cornstarch in the sugar can help to buffer the curdling. –  sourd'oh Jul 6 '13 at 21:05
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