These lemon bars, a must for any citrus lover, are the best I have ever made. My lemon-obsessed cousin Lara is about to have her second child, so this post is a sort of homage to her. Her husband and she smartly decided not to share the baby’s name until she’s born. So while Lara’s in labor, I’ll be eating stacks of lemon bars contemplating possibilities– hopefully I don’t eat all of them and can bring her some after the delivery.
Anyway. Lemon bars. I haven’t made these in a long while, partially because when I do, I eat the majority of the pan. But I’m glad that I did, because OMGARETHEYDELICIOUS. Prior to making these, the last time I had a lemon bar was when my good friend Mookie and I took a day trip to Santa Barbara from LA. We found a little cafe to eat in, but couldn’t find a parking spot where we wouldn’t be ticketed, so we bought our food and ate it in the car on our way back home. I think we both got portobello sandwiches of some sort, and two different pastries. The lemon bar I bought was so large; it was probably the size of at least four of mine combined. I ate it as we drove down the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping only to take in the cinematic sunset at a little beach next to a retirement home.
Mookie picking up seashells on our way back home.
If California was a lady, she’d be very photogenic.
I like these lemon bars because the zingy lemon flavor is the star, with the buttery, crumbly crust taking a back seat. Using good lemons is a great way to ensure a tasty result. The lemons I used this time around were so juicy and sweet, they almost smelled like yellow Starbursts. This recipe heralds from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread, and I simply can’t recommend it enough.
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
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 (about 3 juicy lemons)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Does that piece not look like Idaho??
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center of oven. Butter and paper a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. As you can see in the photos, I absentmindedly forgot this step. My lemon squares still came out wonderfully, but buttering and papering your pan makes the last few steps much easier.
To make crust: 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. I recommend taking the butter out of the refrigerator about five minutes prior to this step.
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 filling: 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.Once completely cooled, dust extra confectioners’ sugar over the filling. Use a fine mesh sieve for even dispersion.
Cut into 20 squares. Serve immediately or wrap each bar tightly with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.