I can still remember the first time I ever had a lemon bar. I was at my girlfriends high school graduation party. They were just another item being served along the buffet table. Up until that point the idea of lemon bars just never appealed to me so I just hadn’t bothered trying one. Well, when I asked her about them and she mentioned that she made them I decided to give them a go. And they were nothing like I had imagined they would be! I’m not too sure what I was expecting… but I realized immediately that I was a fan. Lemon bars were good and I would no longer be ignoring them every time our paths crossed.
You will come across a slight variation with lemon bar recipes though- some are tart and others are more sweet. Which flavor is favored is sometimes a deal breaker for some people. There are certain people that just can’t stand sour, citrus flavored things. I don’t mind a touch of sour if there is enough sweet to balance it out, but I don’t want to be overwhelmed and left with a screwy, contorted face I can’t control all day. Yes, it happens. My Dad for instance can’t stand the tartness AT ALL. Others refuse to recognize a lemon bar as such if it’s too sugary.
So which is this lemon bar then?
Well I like to think of this recipe as the perfect compromise : ) It’s sweet, but still has the signature tang from the lemon. Since these still have a degree of tartness I would suggest all you haters to avoid this recipe, but I assure you, it’s not an overwhelming flavor.
And the crust!? It’s so yummy! I looooove crusts. The crust is pretty much my favorite part of any pastry it makes an appearance with. It’s just got so much texture and buttery-ness. It’s so good! Well, this crust works beautifully with the lemon filling. It stays nice and firm after baking. Like most crusts, it does start to lose it’s crispness more and more each day it’s stored, so it is truly at it’s best the day it’s made.
The crust comes together very simply in the food processor and the filling is whisked together in a single bowl in minutes. This is truly a very simplistic recipe. If you never thought you were capable of making lemon bars at home, I assure you that you are. Especially if you use this recipe ; )
- For the Crust:
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for sifting on top
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks) at
- very cool room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus extra for greasing pan
- For the Lemon Filling:
- 4 large eggs, beaten lightly
- 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons finely grated zest (from two large
- ⅔ cup fresh lemon juice (from 3 to 4 large
- lemons), strained
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- For the crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and line with parchment paper.
- Pulse flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in food processor bowl fitted with steel blade. Add butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then pulse until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second bursts. (To do this by hand, mix flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl. Freeze butter and grate it on large holes of box grater into flour mixture. Toss butter pieces to coat. Rub pieces between your fingers for a minute, until flour turns pale yellow and coarse.) Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and press firmly with fingers into even, ¼-inch layer over entire pan bottom and about ½ inch up sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
- For the filling: Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in medium bowl, then stir in lemon juice, zest, milk, and salt to blend well.
- To finish the bars: Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Stir filling mixture to reblend; pour into warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to near room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Transfer to cutting board, fold paper down, and cut into serving-size bars, wiping knife or pizza cutter clean between cuts, as necessary. Sieve confectioners’ sugar over bars, if desired. Store in refrigerator.
Adapted from ”The New Best Recipe” By Cooks Illustrated