Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Very Best Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

About three years ago, I began the hunt for the perfect lemon square recipe. I tried them from near and far, by Martha, Canadian Living, and more. Not ONE fit the bill. Some were too puckery, the filling too runny, the bottoms too hard, nothing was just right.

I was doomed to wander the Earth, searching for the perfect lemon bar until last week, when they suddenly appeared in the staff room; not too sweet, or too sour. The proportion of filling to base was perfect. They were soft, but not runny. The staff literally fought over them, trying to get just ONE before they were devoured with sticky, icing sugar covered fingers.

In other words, I had found perfection. Before the bell went, I raced down the hall, found the student whose mother it was rumored had produced those amazing bites of heaven, and begged, practically on my knees, to have it. In front of a whole pile of teenagers, right there in the hallway.

Now I'm going to share it with YOU! If you were here, I'd hand you the pan and tell you to please take them away, because I really could literally eat them ALL.

Adapted from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 cup flour  **if you are allergic to wheat flour, you can directly substitute barley flour**
pinch of salt

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour  (or barley flour)
*3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
*1 tsp grated lemon zest
(*note: It was recommended I add more zest and a little more juice, depending on how juicy the lemons are. I'd try another 1/2 tsp more zest and an extra tbsp juice in total. Buy 2-3 lemons for the small pan, 3-4 for the large one just to be safe.)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F, and line a 9x9 inch square pan with parchment paper. This recipe also works well if you double it and use a 9x13 inch pan.

Make the crust:

In a bowl with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugar together until fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and lemon zest together. Add to the butter mixture and combine. The result will look like a butter cookie dough. Press it evenly into the bottom of your parchment paper lined pan.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are browned. Remove from the oven and pour in the filling.

While it Bakes, Make the filling:

In a clean electric mixer bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix well. Pour over the warm crust and return it to the oven for about 20 minutes, until the top is dry and the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

When completely cooled, dust the squares with icing sugar, and slice. I keep them in a sealed airtight container in the fridge. I doubt they will last very long!

Finally! The Perfect Lemon Bar!

See? Wasn't that easy?

If you plan to make these ahead, freeze them and just dust with icing sugar before you serve them.
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