Every seasoned cook has one: the first recipe that they mastered; this is mine. When I was little, I would practically beg my mom to bake up a batch of these ultrazesty lemon bars. Lucky for me, she's nearly as enamored with them as I am, so she would often give into my request; that is, until I was old enough that she could teach me how to make them myself. Dozens of batches in, the recipe has been tweaked to perfection and is as much a staple of my culinary repertoire as it is my mom's.
Whereas many lemon bars only incorporate the tart lemon juice, these take a holistic approach and use both the juice and fragrant zest for a bar that screams citrus. The trick is adding the zest to the shortbread base rather than the eggy, lemon-curd-like topping so that the citrus flavor permeates the whole bar without sacrificing the smooth texture of the topping. Try them, and I suspect you too will become a double-lemon bar convert.
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
Sifted powdered sugar, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, powdered sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Cut the butter in using a pastry cutter or the tines of a fork until it is in roughly pea-sized pieces and a very loose, shaggy dough has formed. Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish. Spread it out evenly over the dish and press it in firmly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and fragrant.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and sugar in a medium mixing bowl until smooth and streak-free. Whisk in the lemon juice. Add the flour and whisk till frothy and completely smooth. Pour over the shortbread base as soon as it is taken out of the oven, and return to the oven, reducing the temperature to 300°F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top has just set up.
- Allow to cool completely before cutting. For a neater appearance, trim away the edges before cutting into 16 squares. Generously sift powdered sugar on top just before serving.
- Desserts, Cookies
- 16 bars