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Lemon Bars Redux

November 7, 2007

This was meant to be a picture of a beautiful pan of lemon bars.  As you can see, it didn’t work out quite the way I’d planned.

 But it’s not the end of the world, because they are so good that this is what my lemon bars really look like.  Gone.

It will doubtless surprise you to learn that I’m very picky about my lemon bars.  I like a very flaky, crumbly, not-too-sweet shortbread on the bottom, a gooey, but not runny, layer of very tart and lemon-y sauce, a paper-thin layer of crispy topping, and a drift of powdered sugar.  The perfect lemon bar is hard to cut, and looks a little raggedy on the plate:

Lemon is one of my very favorite flavors in the world:  gingerbread with lemon sauce, lemon meringue pie, lemon drops (for several weeks when I was pregnant with Tuxedo Boy I lived on Lemonheads and chili-tamarind candy from Mexico–thanks, Rigo!).  So this is really and truly the best lemon bar recipe ever.  I’ve done the work:  you reap the benefits.

Imperial Lemon Bars

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly grease a 13″ x 9″ baking pan, preferably Pyrex.  

Shortbread:

2 sticks softened butter (do I have to say it?)
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Mix these ingredients in your Kitchen-Aid till well-combined.  Press evenly into the bottom of your prepared pan, and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool while you mix up the lemon part.  Don’t bother to wash out the bowl–it doesn’t matter.

Filling:

4 eggs
1/2 t freshly grated lemon rind
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 cup unbleached flour

Beat eggs, sugar, lemon rind, and lemon juice till thick and lovely.  Add flour and baking powder and continue to beat until mixture is well-combined.  Pour over the shortbread and put it back in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges and well-set in the center.  Cool in pan for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into bars.

Theoretically, this makes something like 24 dainty little Lemon Bars.  In practice, people hack out great chunks and eat them over the pan, so I hesitate to give you a serving number.  You’ll get a sense of what the market will bear the second or third time you make them.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jo Fothergill permalink
    November 9, 2007 12:22 pm

    how much is a stick of butter? (quantity i mean) butter in NZ is bought in 500gm blocks and i’m pretty sure you don’t mean two of those blocks …

    and is the powdered sugar the stuff you use to make icing? (called icing sugar here)

    and one more – is the granulated sugar white? (we have white, raw, caster, soft brown and icing sugar – i would want to get it right for the recipe …) http://www.chelsea.co.nz/Products.aspx

    thanks …

  2. melyndahuskey permalink*
    November 10, 2007 9:03 pm

    Dear Jo,

    A stick of butter is 113.4 grams, or 8 tablespoons, or 1/2 cup. In the U.S., butter is mostly sold in 1 pound boxes, with each box holding 4 individually wrapped “sticks” of butter.

    (And before you get too impressed, let me introduce you to this site:
    http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/BritishEquiv.htm

    which I use to convert my NZ and British recipes.

    Powdered sugar is icing sugar. Granulated sugar is plain white sugar. We have raw sugar, which we call Demerara, and soft brown, which we just call “brown,” and it’s almost impossible to find caster sugar (which is called “superfine” here in the States). Golden syrup and treacle are also expensive and hard to find–we have molasses, which is pretty close to treacle, but there’s just no substitute for golden syrup. I could eat it right out of the tin!

  3. Jo Fothergill permalink
    November 11, 2007 11:54 am

    aha – we still talk about a pound of butter but it’s really 500gm these days …

    hmm – praps i should bring you some golden syrup …

    thanks for the help – will let you know what my long-legged kids think of this recipe

  4. December 23, 2007 12:47 pm

    I have one recipe for lemon squares and stumbled across this one. My husband is a large fan of anything lemon so I decided what the heck. He just purchased me a KA stand mixer with some great attachments for my Christmas present as that’s the only thing I really wanted so I’m spoiling him in return with one of his favorite dishes. Thanks for posting the recipe!

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