I feel like summer is the perfect time to use lemons. I mean, nothing says summer quite like a nice cool glass of lemonade. But what happens if you’re hungry? I’ve made lemon bars multiple times (and it’s usually in the warmer months). They make an excellent dessert or snack, especially when you’re having a party. I think it’s the way the powdered sugar garnishes the lemon and makes it so tempting. I made these today because one of my best friends is in the city and over breakfast we were discussing what our last meal would be (somewhat morbid, but we were just trying to figure out what our favorite foods were) and she said for dessert she would either have my lemon bars or my pumpkin bites. Well I already had pumpkin bites in my fridge, so why not make some lemon bars? That way she could eat both. So after a long day of wandering through Times Square, we came home and made some lemon bars. I used the recipe from the Williams Sonoma book and I thought, since I had a 9-inch square cake pan and not a 8-inch, I would double the recipe. Anyway, they came out really nicely and both my friend and boyfriend enjoyed them. Pat took some to work and I’ll probably end up eating some for breakfast.
So let’s get started!
Ingredients (makes 16 bars):Crust: -1 cup AP flour -7 tbspn unsalted butter -1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar Lemon filling: -1 small lemon -2 tbspn flour -2 eggs -1 cup granulated sugar (I used brown sugar) -1/2 tspn baking powder -big pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the butter in the square cake pan and place the pan in the oven until the butter melts (about 5 minutes) or you can melt the butter in a separate bowl (microwave safe) for 45 seconds in the microwave. Let the butter cool and then combine it with the flour and the confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar). In the book, it says to mix it with a fork until a dough forms. I suggest you use your hands because you will use your hands to press the dough into the bottom of the cake pan. Once the dough is lined evenly across the bottom of the pan, return the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and the sugar until it is well blended. Zest the lemon (wash it with a little bit of salt to rub off any layers of wax first) and squeeze enough juice to measure 2 tablespoons. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, baking powder, flour and salt until well combined.
- When the crust is done, remove the pan from the oven and spread the filling over the hot crust. Return the pan into the oven and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes (or until the lemon filling is a pale brown). If you used brown sugar instead of granulated sugar, the filling will be browner, but it should form a nice crust on top. Insert a toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean it will be done. If you are going to double your recipe, don’t forget to double the baking time, so it will go from 20 to 25 minutes to 40 to 50 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to the rack and let it cool. Once cool, remove it from the pan and cut into squares (the book says to garnish it with powdered sugar before you cut it, but I think it looks better to cut the lemon bars first). Place some powdered sugar in a small sieve and tap the edge so that the powdered sugar falls through onto the lemon bars.
Personally, I find that it’s easier to line the cake pan with parchment paper because it lets you lift out the lemon bars without having to worry about the crust sticking to the bottom. Also I have found that if you cut the lemon bars in the pan (and it hasn’t been lined with parchment paper) when the lemon bars are lifted out the crust tends to break off.
This is a photo of a lemon bar I made last summer. I used a larger pan, so the crust is a little thinner and I made it sort of like a tart shell because I pressed some of the dough up the sides. These lemon bars are really versatile, so you don’t have to cut them up into squares or bars. You could probably use a tart pan and make it a lemon tart as well. I wonder what could happen if I used oranges as well. Maybe it would be too citrus-y, but I feel like you could add in other flavors and take this lemon bar up a notch. I’ll keep you posted! But in the meantime, grab some cool lemonade, lemon bar (if it’s too overpowering, maybe change the lemon to ice water with a lemon wedge), and enjoy!
Hugs and puppies!