LEMONS are one of my favorite fruits for spring. It has been ages since I had lemon bars, so I thought I would show you mine.
Different Ways of Making the Lemon Filling
If you Google for lemon bars, you will get hundreds of recipes to try. Since there are few ingredients, what are some things to look for when deciding on a recipe? Almost all lemon bars have a shortbread crust. This is the classic crust; it is solid, flaky, buttery, and holds its shape after baking it.
Filling types consist of lemons, sugar, eggs, and a little flour for binding. But here are the differences do you cook the filling on the stove, whisk it by hand, or do you use a stand or hand-held mixer to whip it? Ah, decisions!
My take is while I could cook the filling and then strain it, this is a curd which is not the lemon bars I remember. But they are good, so you don't have to worry about taste. It is just a little trickier to make.
Even when I was younger, I would not want to whisk the lemon filling by hand. I am sorry, but this is what the mixer machine is here for, and not to break my arm.
So this leaves the choice that I use, whisk in a stand mixer. This process does leave some air bubbles in the mixture when you pour it onto the baked shortbread crust, but it is only a thin layer. So when you pull the lemon bars from the oven, there might be a thin white layer from the whipped air.
IngredientsJump to Recipe for Amounts
Lemons - I got a bag of lemons at the grocery store, and they were small to medium in size. If you purchase large lemons, you may need one less than I had for zesting and juicing.
Unsalted Butter - There is no salt in this recipe. I did not add any, nor did I add any from the butter. However, you can add a little salt to your shortbread. People add salt to shortbread crust to cut down on the sweetness of the crust. I prefer to add a little lemon juice to cut down on the sweetness—just a different method since I am trying to cut down on salt.
How to Make a Shortbread Crust
Shortbread is very easy to mix; this recipe uses only four ingredients. But the crust is essential in making a great lemon bar. So we start with the crust.
Start with an 8X8" baking pan. The one I use is a USA baking pan. I spray it with Pam or equivalent, dust it lightly with flour, and set it aside. I feel the floured sides help keep the lemon filling on top and not slide under the baked crust.
In a stand or hand-held mixer, add the butter and powdered sugar and turn the mixer on to a low speed. If you turn the mixer on at a higher speed, you may be wearing half of the powdered sugar. It has happened to me already. Also, add the lemon juice at this point.
Beat for 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the bowl, and turn the mixer back on to a low speed, and slowly add the flour. Mix just till incorporated. Take your hand and mix in any flour at the bottom of the bowl until you have a dough ball.
Now press the shortbread dough around the whole bottom of the prepared 8X8 pan. Make sure the dough is to the sides and into the corners.
Pre-baked with shallow fork marks.
Baked and cooling.
Using a fork, I make very shallow marks around the dough. Try not to go the whole way to the bottom. Then, I put the pan into the freezer for 10 minutes.
Bake at 350° for 13-17 minutes. Check on shortbread at 13 minutes. You want the shortbread baked through and a golden brown with just slightly darker around the edges. Set it aside to cool while you make the filling.
Making the Lemon Filling
Zest 2 to 3 lemons. You want enough zest to pack into one tablespoon. Then juice the lemons to get ½ cup. If needed, juice the fourth lemon to reach ½ cup.
Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, eggs, and sugar to a mixer bowl. Sift the flour right into the mixer bowl on top of the ingredients. Add the wire whip and not the flat beater to your mixer. Mix on medium-high speed until well blended.
The wire whip does add air to the lemon filling so pour slowly onto the top of the baked shortbread. The goal is for the lemon filling to sit on top of the baked shortbread and not go under it.
Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes. Check on it at 20 minutes. It should be firm with a very slight jiggle. There could be a thin white coating on top from the air bubbles, but this is fine. Take it out of the oven and let it cool until you can handle the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I like it after it has been in the refrigerator overnight.
I cut four lines across and four down to get sixteen squares using a very sharp knife. This helps to make clean cuts for your squares. The shortbread is baked through and not too thick on the bottom crust, and the lemon filling is shiny and glistening. I add powdered sugar on top just before serving.
Perfect for spring or just about anytime!
Lemon bars need to be kept in a container with a lid and stored in the refrigerator. The great thing about lemon bars is that they taste great when cold.
Other Lemon Cookies
Easy Lemon BarsBarbara Hall
- ½ cup (113.5 g) Butter unsalted room temperature
- ¼ cup (30 g) Powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) Lemon juice
- 1 cup (125 g) All-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups (300 g) Sugar white
- 1 Tablespoon (1 Tablespoon) Lemon zest
- ½ cup (122 g) Lemon juice
- 3 (3) Eggs large
- ½ cup (62.5 g) All-purpose flour sifted
- ¼ cup (30 g) Powdered sugar for dusting on top
- Weigh or measure the flour and set it aside. Then, do the same for the powdered sugar and set it aside. Also, zest and juice with enough lemons for crust and lemon filling. Next, take an 8X8" baking pan and lightly spray with Pam. Then lightly flour the whole inside of the pan and tap out the access flour by turning the pan upside down and tapping the bottom.
- Using a stand or hand-held mixer, add the butter and sugar and turn the mixer on at a low speed. Once the powdered sugar is incorporated, turn the mixer to a medium speed. Add the lemon juice and blend for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and then add the flour. Just mix until most of the flour has been absorbed. Don't overmix.
- Take the bowl off the stand and, using your hand, make sure all the small flour pieces are incorporated and you have a ball that looks smooth. Next, press out the dough so it covers the entire bottom of the pan and into the corners. I also press the dough up the sides slightly.
- Next, take a fork and make shallow fork marks around the dough. You do not want to go through the dough to the bottom. These shallow fork marks help keep the dough flat when it bakes. Then stick the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Bake at 350° for 13 to 17 minutes. Check on it at 13 minutes. You want a golden brown with just slightly darker around the edges. Take out of the oven and let the crust cool before adding the lemon filling.
- Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and eggs; you can sift the flour right into the mixer bowl. Use the whisk attachment for your mixer and mix until blended, about 2 minutes.
- Pour the lemon filling into the cooled crust-Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes. Check doneness at 20 minutes. You only want a slight jiggle in the filling, and the top could have a thin white layer. This is fine; it is the air bubbles coming to the top. But you want to have the filling set before taking it out of the oven. Let it cool, then add plastic wrap to the top of the pan and refrigerate overnight. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top before serving.
I am not a certified Dietitian or Nutritionist. The nutrition amounts given below are provided through a program and are only a guideline.