Classic Lemon Bars

lemon bars with ribbon 2

The other day I literally gave myself a blister beating and whisking a lemon cream that was supposed to come to a certain temperature and never did. This one is not such a fussy cream. It's the 30 minute version, easy, no special techniques, pretty fool proof. And just what I needed after a string of kitchen failures that never even made it onto the blog.

lemon bars on plates

The crust is kind of a shortbread that is simply spun around in the food processor and then pressed into the pan. Really, nothing could be simpler. The filling, too, is straightforward and can be whipped up quickly while the crust partially bakes. The only planning ahead is for refrigeration. Completely non-active.

lemon bars one layer

I brought them to Prospect Park for a friend's birthday BBQ. And they survived the hour subway ride from the Upper, Upper East Side, and then a 40 minute trek through the park when we discovered that the one train which ran even somewhat conveniently from our side of the island to Brooklyn let us off near the exact opposite corner of the park from where we were supposed to be. But there's something about New York that makes these escapades doable, where I probably wouldn't dream of driving an hour and then walking more than half of that for a picnic in any other place.

lemon bars with ribbon

Classic Lemon Bars
Adapted to add more lemon flavor from The Gourmet Cookbook

2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, from about 2 lemons
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, from about 2 lemons
1/8 teaspoon salt

Powdered Sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350F, with a rack in the middle. You'll use a 9 inch square pan, but you can leave it ungreased.

For the crust: In a food processor, pulse together all of the ingredients except the butter to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like course meal. Pour the dough into your pan and press it onto the bottom. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crust is just barely golden brown.

In the meantime, make the filling: Whisk together all of the ingredients for the filling until combined. Be sure there are no lumps of flour left in the mixture.

When the crust has been partly baked, remove it from the oven and pour the filling into the still-warm crust. Return to the oven until the filling is set, about 16 minutes. Transfer the whole pan to a rack to cool. Cover and refrigerate until cold. This will take at least 4 hours, so you may as well give yourself overnight.

To serve, cut the bars and sprinkle with powdered sugar.


Dana said…
Lemon bars have always been a favorite in our house, ever since I was a little girl. My tried and true recipe (from Betty Crocker!) is a little tired. This one sounds much more interesting. I'm impressed that you persevered with all the heat you guys have been having!
Rachel said…
Classic yum. I've done versions of these with things like herbs in the shortbread, but I always find the simpler version much more enjoyable.
Becca said…
Lemon has to be one of my favorite summer desserts ever!

Unknown said…
Just gorgeous, love that ribbon
Eliana said…
These are picture perfect lemon bars. I absolutely love them.
Anonymous said…
I've been making these for years! I stumbled across the recipe in a copy of Gourmet magazine years ago, and loved the simplicity of the recipe and the mouthwatering results. The bad news is, I've tried increasing the recipe to make in a production kitchen, and it just doesn't work as well.
Lovely looking lemon bars. I lvoe the bow around them!
brandirroberts said…
So do you pour the filling into the crust after it has baked for 4 minutes and then continue baking for another 16? Or bake the crust 20 minutes and then an additional 16 once the filling is in? Thanks for your help. I want to make these soon!
Andrea said…
Brandi, bake for 20 minutes, pour in the filling, then bake for 16 more.
Lemon Bars, now why haven't I heard of these before? These could be a 'they are for ME!' moment. If you have had a few kitchen flops lately than I say, you have been redeemed :-)

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