I grew up in a family which took their baked goods pretty seriously. Maybe it’s a Midwestern thing. At every family picnic (or “cook-out”, as we called them) there would be an array of pies, bars, and other confections, to follow up the standard burgers, salads, slow cooked baked beans, and so on. Lemon bars seemed to be one of the most treasured treats, yet one of those which seemed very difficult to get just right. I always loved one of my aunt’s lemon bars. Whenever they made an appearance at a picnic, I made sure to have one (or two, maybe more–my memory is foggy). They were like pure delicious sunshine, to me.
As an adult, when I started baking, naturally, I wanted to try my hand at the elusive lemon bars. I tried a few different recipes. I tested a few I found online and in magazines. I even used my aunt’s recipe. None of them brought about the kind of perfection I was seeking. Maybe I’m too much of a perfectionist, but I think there are worse pursuits than creating the perfect lemon bar.
Here are my criteria for the perfect lemon bar: The crust has to be thick enough to hold the filling and not crumble in your hand, while you hold it up to your mouth, yet soft enough to be tender when you bite into it. The filling should have a lovely balance between sweet and tart. The powdered sugar on top should be like fresh snow, gently dusted on, to allow you to just barely see the underlying bright, lemony surface.
After trying several recipes, I was lucky enough to be given a friend’s mom’s recipe, which turned out to be just what I had been searching for. I have made these lemon bars a number of times, and they are always incredibly delicious. I have simply added more detailed instructions to the recipe, based on my own way of doing things. Otherwise, the recipe is the same.
I just made a batch for a play group party, and I knew I had to share the recipe with you. If you’re wary of recipes which claim to be the BEST EVER, let me tell you, I’m right there with you. If I see one of those, I will probably pass it by, simply because of its audacity. That is why I didn’t call this recipe the best. I called it my favorite. But, seriously, to me, it really is the best. I hope you will enjoy it, too.
My Favorite Lemon Bars
This is my very favorite recipe for lemon bars. Each bar is like a delicious ray of sunshine in your mouth. They are always a hit at backyard barbecues and parties.
- 1 cup/ 2 sticks/ 225grams unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar/ soft icing mixture
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
- 5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar/ soft icing mixture, for dusting on top
Preheat oven to 350F/ 180C degrees. Spray oil in a 9×13 inch Pyrex pan.
Make the crust: Using 2 forks or a pastry cutter, in a large bowl, blend butter, salt, 1/2 cup powdered sugar/ soft icing mixture, and 2 cups sifted flour, to make a soft dough. Press dough evenly into oiled Pyrex dish, using the back of a metal spoon to flatten. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until crust is lightly golden.
Make the filling: In a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl, combine eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and 1/4 cup sifted flour and blend with a metal whisk until smooth. Pour over baked crust.
Reduce oven temp to 325F/ 160C degrees. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the center is firm and the edges are lightly golden.
Cool on wire rack, covered with a clean tea towel.
Dust with sifted powdered sugar/ soft icing mixture. Slice into bars when cooled completely.
Store in refrigerator. Consume within 3 days.
This recipe was created by Kim Sequoia for a delicious moment.
All written content and photos are copyright Kimberly Sequoia 2017 for a delicious moment.
If you would like to use this recipe on your own site, please re-write it in your own words and link back to my original post.