When life gives you lemons… make lemon bars!
These lemon bars were requested by my father as his Easter indulgence. As you can tell from the looseleaf paper the recipe is written on, it is an oldy but goody. Here is my guilty secret about the recipe: I cannot remember its origins! It looks like a Cook’s Illustrated kind of recipe, but I am not 100%. A few years ago I made 11 different lemon bar recipes until I found the best one. This is the one I kept.
Make these on the weekend and get some help squeezing the lemons. I would advise you have other people in the house when you cut the lemon bars into squares and serve. Otherwise, you will end up a lemon bar glutton just like I was over Easter when I kept sneaking over to a certain part of the kitchen “to make sure everything was ok.”
Perfect Lemon Bars
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. confectioner’s sugar + extra to decorate finished bars
1/4 c. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. salt
12 T. unsalted butter, frozen
4 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 1/3 c. granulated sugar
3 T. all-purpose flour
2 t. finely grated zest from 2 lemons
2/3 c. juice from 3-4 lemons, strained
1/3 c. whole milk
1/8 tsp. salt
1. For the crust. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter a 13″ x 9″ baking dish and line with 1 sheet of parchment paper. Dot paper with butter, then lay second sheet crosswise over it.
2. Mix flour, confectioners sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Grate frozen butter on large holes of a box grater into the flour mix. Toss butter pieces to coat. Rub pieces between your fingers for a minute, until the flour turns pale yellow and coarse. Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and press firmly with your fingers or the bottom of a 1 c. measuring cup into even, 1/4″ layer over entire pan bottom and about 1/2″ up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown, roughly 20 minutes.
3. For the filling. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar & flour in a medium bowl. Then stir in lemon zest, juice, milk and salt. Blend well.
4. To finish the bars. Reduce oven temperature to 325 F. Stir filling mixture to re-blend. Pour onto warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 20-30 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to nearly room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Gently tug up on parchment paper and transfer lemon bars, parchment paper and all,to a cutting board. Peel paper down, cut into serving-sized bars, wiping knife or pizza cutter clean between cuts as necessary. Sieve confectioners sugar over bars, if desired.