Perfect Lemon Bars
I loooove lemon. There, I admitted it. In more recent years, I have reached a point where I love all citrus, at least all the ones I’ve tried. Lemons, limes, oranges, graprefruit, pumellos, ugli fruit… (I know, there are more). I think my taste buds belong where citrus grows. The rest of me, not so much. While I really do get tired of the cold winters of Michigan, I don’t tolerate the extreme heat well at all. One of my sisters lives in Florida. I love to visit, but I wouldn’t wanna live there. All that being said, lemons and limes are probably the dearest to me, maybe because they are so versatile and can add so much to so many foods and drinks. Which actually is kind of funny, since I never cared much for it as a kid. Back then it had to be chocolate, caramel or both (not to say these things are far down the list). Now it seems like I like everything dessert. Welllll, unless it has bananas. Those are jsut nasty.
Anyway, my citrus kick at the end of this winter was extreme. Like going on a lemon bender. I got going on lemon bars, and found that most of them did not really suit my tastes that well. There was always at least one thing I didn’t like about each one I tried. So, of course, I set out to create my version of the perfect lemon bar. My husband has eaten a LOT of lemon bars. Good thing he really likes them and never gains weight.
We both agreed this was by far the best one. Crispy crust, with a tangy, not-too-sweet filling, with a strong lemon punch. BONUS – They freeze well. I cut them up, then freeze them right on the cutting board. Once they are completely frozen, I wrap them in portions for packing lunches and throw them back in the freezer. They thaw out great, with the crust still crisp. Just make sure you bake the crust as directed until it is browned well all over. If you want a softer crust, just take it out when it is lightly browned. If they aren’t sweet enough for you, add a little more sugar or use a little less lemon juice.
- 1½ cup (140g) flour
- ⅓ cup (50g) sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Lemon Filling:
- 6 large eggs, beaten lightly
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 3 T unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp. grated lemon zest from 2 large lemons
- 1¼ cup lemon juice from 3 to 4 large lemons, strained
- 2 Tablespoons whole milk
- ⅛ teaspoon table salt
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Overturn a 9 x 13 metal cake pan on the counter and wrap the outside snugly with foil, shiny side up. Remove the foil, turn the pan over, and fit the foil into the pan, pressing to nudge the foil into the corners. Then smooth it as best you can. Lightly butter or spray the surface of the foil with nonstick spray.
- In a medium bowl, mix the crust ingredients, stirring just until smooth.
- Smooth the batter into the bottom of the pan, using your hands or a small offset spatula to get it as level as possible.
- Bake the crust for approximately 30 minutes, or until deep-golden brown all over.
- Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in medium bowl, then stir in lemon zest, juice, milk, and salt to blend well.
- To finish the bars: Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Stir filling mixture to reblend; pour into warm crust. Bake until filling no longer jiggles when the pan is shaken. Should feel slightly firm when touched lightly, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to near room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Transfer to cutting board, fold foil down, and cut into serving-size bars, wiping knife or pizza cutter clean between cuts, as necessary. Dust confectioners’ sugar over bars, if desired.