I’ve had a soft spot for lemon bars ever since seventh grade… Seventh grade was the first year that we were able to take Home Ec. at school, and after weeks of learning how to measure solids and liquids, cut butter into flour, etc., lemon bars were the first recipe that we made in class.
Much to my immense disappointment, we were placed into groups of four to prepare our recipes. I’d been hoping we’d get to make them solo.
I can still remember rushing home, recipe in hand, eager to try out my newfound skills all on my own in our kitchen. I carefully poured, measured, and baked, and while they may not have been the best ever lemon bars, I recall having the same sense of satisfaction that I still get when I bake from scratch today.
Somewhere along the line I lost that original recipe that I brought home, but over the years I’ve developed one that I believe is better. I’m fairly certain that my original recipe called for bottled lemon juice, a product you’d be hard pressed to find in my kitchen these days. Fresh is almost always better!
My lemon bars recipe calls for not only freshly squeezed lemon juice, but lemon zest, as well, for a little extra zing. Incidentally, I always zest my lemons before juicing, even if the recipe I’m making doesn’t call for it. Lemon zest freezes wonderfully, and I’m saving up to make a batch of limoncello for the holidays!
One last detail about this recipe for lemon bars is that you can easily adjust how tart the bars are. I find that 1/3 cup is a happy medium for my children. If you prefer a lot of pucker (like myself), increase the amount of lemon juice to 1/2 cup. Or if you prefer a little more sweetness, decrease the lemon juice to 1/4 cup.Print
For the crust:
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons butter, softened
For the filling:
- 3 eggs, beaten lightly
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
- additional confectioner’s sugar (optional)
For the crust:
- Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and then lay a second sheet down crosswise.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, confectioner’s sugar, cornstarch and salt. Cut the butter into the mixture until it is a consistent pale yellow and resembles coarse meal.
- Dump the mixture out into the parchment-lined pan and press firmly with fingers into an even layer.
- Refrigerate for about 30 minutes while the oven is preheating to 350 degrees.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
For the filling:
- While the crust is baking, whisk the eggs, flour and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in lemon juice, zest, cream and salt.
- When the crust is done baking, stir the filling mixture to reblend, and pour it on top of the crust.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, and bake for about 20 minutes, until the filling is firm.
- Remove and cool to room temperature.
- Use the parchment paper to lift the entire bar out of the pan, and carefully slice into rectangles or squares.
- Sift additional confectioner’s sugar over the cut bars for presentation and to add a little extra sweetness.
If you’re a fan of lemon, you might also like these Lemon Poppyseed Scones. We love the pepperiness that the poppy seeds add to this breakfast favorite!