Thursday, April 16, 2009

Zesty lemon bars

When you have fresh lemons, you can make lemonade (and I do, frequently), but if you have a little extra time, you might as well make lemon bars.

{lemons are so beautiful, aren't they?}

A good lemon bar should be tangy, with a delicate crust and texture. It shouldn't be cloyingly sweet. Lauren recommended this Amy's Bread recipe, via Martha, and I'm glad I trusted her. These are wonderful, and the dash of coarse salt provides a perfect contrast to the sweetness.


Sadly, they do not photograph well. I'm thinking next time I might actually wait for them to cool down and then pop them in the freezer for half an hour to get them nice and firm before slicing. Don't let the lack of photos discourage you, though. We tore into these bars despite the ragged edges and everyone loved them.

Zesty Lemon Bars (makes 20 bars, from The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread, via Martha Stewart)

Crust ingredients
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

Topping ingredients

2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Note: I also added the zest from the lemons, because wasting it is a crime, in my book
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

**Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center of oven. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

**To make crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt; process to combine. Add butter to processor and process until mixture is pale yellow and resembles a coarse meal, about 10 seconds. If you don't have a food processor, whisk together flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and work into flour mixture using a pastry blender or your fingers.

**Pour crust mixture into prepared baking dish, pressing down with your fingers to create a 1/4-inch-thick layer along the bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides, pressing firmly at the edges to seal. Transfer pan to freezer and freeze for 30 minutes. Transfer to oven and bake, rotating pan once during baking, until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

**Meanwhile, make the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and flour; stir in lemon juice, milk, and salt until well combined.

**Remove baking pan from oven. Stir topping and pour into warm crust. Return pan to oven and continue baking until topping is just set but not browned, about 20 minutes.

**Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 20 squares. Serve immediately or wrap each bar tightly with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

I think I need this cookbook now.

P.S. Come visit me over at Jess's blog, where I'm sharing some of my life intentions. It's a great series and I was thrilled to be able to participate!


  1. I LOOOVE lemons. I add lemon juice to nearly everything I cook and I'm always drawn to recipes that use lemons.

    When I'm in France in the summer, I always order citron presse, which is basically squeezed lemon juice with only a little bit of ice and sugar. It is so refreshing.

    I'm def gonna be trying this one soon! Thanks!

  2. These sound great! And easy enough that I can probably make them turn out all right. I can't wait to see photos of the finished product.

  3. I adore a good lemon bar. Actually, I like really bad ones to. I'm a lemon bar fiend!

    THank you for this delicious sounding recipe!

  4. i love lemon bars, especially when they're not too sweet. can't wait to try these!

  5. yum! these sound so, so good. and your photograph of the lemons is beautiful! thank you!

  6. my mother made these when i was little... thanks for reminding me how wonderful they were. i'm off to bake some now!

  7. Lemon Bars are one of my all-time favorite cookies. Reminds me of my grandma and my mom.

  8. ok- how tempting! I may just have to experiement with GF flours for this recipe!!! yum! xox

  9. I wholeheartedly agree: lemons are the most adorable fruit. And now I need to go out and buy a bunch so I can make these bars!

  10. Yay for lemon bars! And yay for your wonderful words on your life intentions. Such a positive way to start my day.

  11. Sounds delicious! I love all things lemony

  12. oh, hooray - i'm so glad you liked them as well! that coarse salt really does make all the difference.

  13. I have lemons that need to be used in my fruit bowl, I think I'll be trying out this recipe!Thanks for sharing.

  14. oh... mmm... i can almost imagine the heavenly smell right now.
    you've inspired me, as usual!

  15. This looks fantastic - I adore lemon bars and anything lemony.

  16. I LOVE lemon bars!! I'm going to bookmark this and make them - thinking they will be especially fresh and lovely as a springtime snack. Yum!
    And... thank you for your very kind words on the tutu I made - so happy that you liked it!

  17. I'm going to try to make these this weekend! They look delish...well, the "prep" pictures anyways (: I can almost taste the lemon now. YUM!

  18. damn, i love lemon bars, maybe i'll try & find a way to "veganize" them {i'm allergic to dairy & eggs}...

    loved your post on jess's blog, so wise and well said.

  19. Have you ever made lemon curd? So easy, and so delicious, especially with yogurt. I love it.

  20. one of my most favorite things to make. I love lemons so much, a bowl full always cheers me up. I love fresh squeezed lemon anytime.
    Lemons are good for rough skin, with sugar...

  21. I just had the most amazing lemon bar at Joan's on Third and it totally made me a convert! I never understood what the fuss was all about -- now I know!

    Thanks for the recipe -- I'll have to try them out!

  22. lemon bars is one of my most favorite guilty pleasures. I will definitely be making these.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. this looks and sounds delicious!! there is just something about lemon bars that are so refreshing.

  25. I'll have to try your recipe, it sounds delicious! I find most lemon bars to be too sour, with an overpronounced bad "lemony" quality. This one sounds like a lovely balance. Plus, my parents have a meyer lemon tree, so I have access to some lovely lemons...
    I would add the zest too!

  26. it seems that everyone likes lemon bars.

    just thought i'd join the club.

  27. I checked out your post on Jess's blog, very inspirational, you also did me a favour as I had never seen her blog before and it's full of wonderful things! Oh and I forgot to say how great your hair looks - so so lucky to have an Aveda teaching salon nearby! :)

  28. Lemon bars are my favorite dessert ever!! I can never make them myself, though. Always have to buy them from someone who can actually bake! :)

  29. Amazing photos! The recipe looks delicious, and as always, within reach for my baking attention span. Thank you so much for sharing! Happy weekend to you Rach!

  30. yummm those look great. Thanks for sharing, I can't wait to try them. What a perfect summer dessert.

    Miss K

  31. I live right around the corner from an Amy's Bread and they have done baking right. Their breads are fabulous - I'm sure the cookbook is amazing!

  32. I must learn to trust your recipe finding skills, oh wise one. In all seriousness, I'm in the process of baking the crust, and here I thought "it's waayyyyy too thin". Turns out they rose :) Hurray! Om nom nom!!!


Trying captchas this time - better or worse than having to log in to comment? Let me know! Sorry for all the hoops but the spam has been terrible lately!