There’s just something about citrus fruits. I wish they were in my life all the time. Grapefruit, lemons, limes. These waxy orbs of sour, tart, and sweet bring me so much joy and I wish their refreshing scents would travel with me always.
A few weeks ago, my love for citrus led, naturally, to a purchase of an excessively large bag of lemons, and I needed to do something with the overflow in my fridge.
Cue the lemon bars.
This was my first time making and eating a lemon bar, but even so I knew there had to be an art behind these tasty treats. Even as a lemon bar novice, I really felt that the perfect bar should strike a balance between tart and sweet, between creamy and buttery and fruity. And last but not least, they should (they must!) be lightly and evenly dusted with a layer of superfine powdered sugar. If a lemon bar doesn’t meet these requirements, it’s not perfect. Unfortunately, mine were not perfect.
There was a slightly cheesy taste to it that emerged when not eaten straight chilled from the refrigerator. If I had to fault anything in the recipe, I think it might have been the condensed milk. Besides this flaw, everything else met my standards. The bars had a delicious buttery crust, the filling was sweet but still a little tart, and the lemon flavor shone through.
Anyway, my hunt for the right lemon bar recipe continues, but I’m really hoping these few* will quickly nip the search in the bud. Until then, here are some nice photos to placate the newfound hunger for lemon bars triggered by this post, and the recipe I used, simply because it was so damn easy and still produced something pretty acceptable, at least when chilled.
*David Lebowitz, Smitten Kitchen and Ina Garten: These are people I trust, people who have never failed me. Funny enough, Deb from Smitten Kitchen adapted her lemon bar recipe from Ina Garten’s cookbook – great minds think alike!
Lemon Bars (Recipe from Laura in the Kitchen)
For the Crust:
2 Cups of Flour
1/2 cup of Powdered Sugar
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
For the Filling:
1 14 oz Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
2/3 Cup of Fresh Lemon Juice
Zest of One Lemon *Make sure it’s organic! You don’t want wax in your lemon zest…
1/4 tsp of Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 Tbsp of Flour
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 by 12 inch baking pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the crust and mix together until it forms a dough. Press the dough in the bottom and half way up the sides of the baking pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
3. In a large bowl combine all of the filling ingredients and mix until everything is well mixed.
4. Pour into the baked crust and bake for 25 minutes.
5. Cool for 30 minutes at room temperature and 2 hours in the fridge.
6. Dust with confectioner sugar and cut into bars. Make sure to dust the sugar after the bars have been chilled, otherwise the sugar will melt right into the lemon filling and you’ll never be able to get that pretty dusted sugar top again.