Dear friends, I made lemon bars. I made them and I ate them and ate them. And then I sent them away.
Truth: I cannot be left alone with an entire batch of lemon bars.
It all started when a friend gave us a bag of lemons. I love lemons. But I was paralyzed by the question: what do you do with that many lemons?
A few options that came to mind:
My original thought was to make lemon marmalade but I wanted something quick. These weren’t Meyer lemons so it’s probably for the best anyway.
Then it hit me: lemon bars.
I looked up my trusty old recipe and soon discovered 2 issues:
- it used a 13×9 inch pan but mine exploded a few weeks ago.
- it only called for 2 lemons and I had lots
But I’m better than that. I’m not going to let silly things like that stand in my way. I came up with a creative solution for the pan issue, and started thinking of other ways to use the rest of the lemons.
Part 1 of the creative pan solution: an 8×8 inch pan.
Part 2 of the creative pan solution: a mini cheesecake pan that I received as a gift several years back and have used maybe twice before. I hate to have things sit around unused so this was a perfect plan.
It’s a neat pan, sort of like a muffin tin with holes in the bottom and little circles that fit over the holes (so you can push out the cheesecakes or whatever you make in it).
I even cut out parchment circles to fit it. What does that say about me?
Nevermind my idiosyncrasies…
Let’s make some lemon bars:
First, let’s pretend that the 8×8 pan I’m using is really 13×9, mm’kay?
(Side note: In case you are interested, the mini cheesecake pan held about half the recipe (or a little less) and baked for a few minutes less… I started checking on it halfway through the baking time).
Line your pan with foil, leaving a little extra hanging over the short ends (you’ll use this as a handle to lift it out of the pan later). Lightly grease the foil (nonstick cooking spray is good for this) and set the pan aside.
Mix together 1 1/2 cups flour
and 1/2 cup sugar.
Cut up 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) of cold butter and add it to your bowl.
This is what I mean by “coarse crumbs”.
Press this into your pan to form the crust.
You probably want to take off your rings before doing this. Otherwise, you might press your engagement ring into the crust and turn it into a buttery-floury mess. But you know what? It’s not the end of the world, just a little messy.
Bake the crust for 15-17 minutes at 350 degrees or until it is lightly browned.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
In theory you will use 2 lemons. My lemons were so big I only used 1.
Zest your lemon(s) until you have about 1 tablespoon of zest.
Juice your lemon(s) until you have about 1/3 cup. That was one big lemon… (also, I’m no hand model).
Put the eggs into the bowl of your mixer (or into a mixing bowl if you don’t have a mixer).
Beat on medium high speed until eggs are thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes… if you don’t have a mixer, you can use a whisk and some muscle.
Turn the mixer to low and add 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, the lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Beat until combined.
Pour this over the warm crust and then bake it for another 15 minutes or until the filling is just set and golden around the edges.
Sift powdered sugar over the top while it is still warm. Then let it cool on a wire rack.
Once it is cool, remove from pan using your foil handles.
Cut into squares or bars, enjoy 1 or 2, and then pack up the rest to send away. You’ll thank me later.
adapted from Good Housekeeping Baking
This is one of those go-to recipes that you pull out again and again. And it never disappoints.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold and cut into small pieces
Zest of 1 large lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 1-2 lemons)
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar for dusting the top.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13″ x9″ baking pan with foil, extending it over the edge of the pan. Lightly grease the foil.
- Make the crust: Combine flour and sugar. With a pastry blender, food processor or your fiingers, cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
- Sprinkle dough evenly into the prepared pan and pat firmly into the bottom. Bake 15-17 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Make the filling: In the bowl of a mixer, beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add lemon zest and juice, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Beat until blended, scraping bowl occasionally.
- Pour the lemon filling over the warm crust. Bake 15 minutes or until the filling is just set and golden around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.
- While still warm, sift powdered sugar over the top.
- When cool, remove from pan using the foil (lift using the foil hanging over the edges of the pan). Cut into squares, bars, or whatever size you like. Enjoy!