Lemon bars a great pick-me-up dessert. They have a refreshing lemony tang cut with the perfect amount of sweetness and just a bit of crunch. Also, when you have a tree full of lemons out back, you have to try pretty much anything you can to get rid of them. So when my friend Amy mentioned she was thinking about making lemon bars, I jumped on the opportunity to
force her to bake them at my house.
The strange thing about Ina’s lemon bars is that they don’t actually have lemon curd, which is the main star of lemon bars in general. By the time we realized this, Amy was already over in her cute little apron and I’d already picked a thousand (or six) lemons, and clearly neither of us had really examined the recipe beforehand- so we just went for it.
The crust recipe did not yield nearly enough to build a “1/4-inch edge” around the bars, so that part didn’t happen. Increase the crust recipe by another 50% if you want to do it the “right” way, but Amy and I just decided to go with it. We threw it in the oven, sat around while they baked and cooled, mixed up our lemon filling, and continued on.
Now, mind you, I’ve probably only eaten a lemon bar once in my life. I’ve certainly never seen one without its powdered sugar hat on, so I was expecting the top to be bright yellow and custardy, apparently that part is under the gross-looking top (which is probably why they cover them with powdered sugar to begin with). We were so scared when we pulled them out of the oven and they were a pale yellow with what looked like a sort of “skin” (think: pudding skin) on top.
Despite both of us being very skeptical, we cut a piece and tried a bite… MUCH better than expected. Not perfect in texture, considering there’s no actual “lemon curd”, but not a bad substitute by any means. Although they are a bit time-consuming (to bake and cool and bake and cool), they’re very easy. Definitely give these little guys a try.
Lemon Bars – Adapted from Ina Garten
For the crust: *increase this part of the recipe by 50% to ensure you have enough to build an edge
- 1 Stick unsalted butter, room temp
- 1/2 C Sugar
- 2 C Flour
- 1/8 tsp Kosher Salt
For the filling:
- 6 XL eggs, room temp (or 7 Large eggs)
- 3 C sugar
- 2 Tbs lemon zest
- 1 C lemon juice (freshly squeezed, not store-bought)
- 1 C Flour
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust
- Cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In separate bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add to the butter and mix until just incorporated.
- Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten dough and press it into a 9 x 13-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.
- Bake crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the filling:
- Whisk eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the cooled crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. (When you tap the side of the pan it just just jiggle slightly in the center, if at all). Cool completely on wire rack, then transfer to refrigerator at least an hour to chill.
- Cut into portions and sprinkle with powdered sugar.