Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Taste of Summer - Lemon Bar Recipe

I don't remember being a big lemon bar fan as a kid.  I don't remember hating them but if they were on a dessert tray I don't think the would be my first pick.  Somehow in the last 5 or 10 years I've really fallen in love with lemon bars and all things lemon!
The closest thing to a sun I've seen in days!

It's March and while for us here in the Southern US that doesn't mean the last dregs of snow it does mean days and days of rain and grey. I'm finding that I'm missing summer and color and warmth right about now and my taste buds are craving citrus!

While I can't raise the temperature or make the flowers bloom I CAN do something about the citrus cravings.  And then when I saw gorgeous Meyer lemons at the grocery store the other day I just knew what I had to do.  Make lemon bars!

It took a couple of tries.  I had a cookbook from the library that promised to be proven best recipes.  And lo and behold there was a recipe for Lemon Bars!  So I set about making them looking forward to a little taste of summer on a cold and rainy day.  But the whole time I was making it something didn't quite feel right.  The dough for the crust felt to thin and the lemon part felt too thick and there wasn't nearly enough.  But I persevered.  These recipes were proven!  I had heard of the people who had put out the cookbook.  Surely my instincts were wrong.

I was not wrong.  The flavor was really good but the texture was a bit like fruit leather and the whole bar was maybe 1/4 of inch thick.  Not exactly the luscious bite of bright lemon I was going for.

But I still had a basket of Meyer lemons left and the desire for lemon bars.  I went to my trusty stack of cookbooks to see what I could find and Francine Bryson came to the rescue.

If you're not familiar with Francine she was in The American Baking Competition a few years ago which was hosted by Jeff Foxworthy and was supposed to be like The Great British Bake Off.  I don't think the show did very well but I liked it until the end when the guy who I didn't really like won over someone I really liked but that's beside the point.

The point is that inside Francine's cookbook Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen is a recipe for lemon bars that are pretty much exactly what I want lemon bars to be.  They're soft and luscious without being too gooey and are just bursting with lemon flavor.  And they're easy!  I didn't have to pull out my mixer.  All I needed was a whisk, a pastry blender (or a fork), and a zester.

Classic Southern Lemon Bars

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

4 large eggs
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup strained lemon juice

confectioner's sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9" square pan with parchment paper and then grease with butter (I used cooking spray and it worked fine).
Make the crust: using an electric mixer, combine the flour, granulated sugar, salt and lemon zest. (I just used a whisk) Cut 1/2 cup butter into chunks and add to bowl.  Blend on low speed until the mixture forms coarse, sandy crumbs. (I just used my pastry blender but a fork would work too).
Pour into the pan and press the mixture down into an even layer.  Bake until just lightly browned around the edges, 16 to 19 minutes.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice.  
Pour the filling into the baked crust while the crust is still hot.  Bake until the filling is set and doesn't jiggle when the pan is gently shaken, about 20 minutes.
Let cool completely on a wire rack before dusting with confectioner's sugar and slicing into bars.  Stor in an airtight container.

So if you're craving a little sunshine I highly recommend you give these a try!  But only when you have people to share them with because I may or may not have eaten half the pan myself!

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads


  1. Lemon is a go-to dessert for me. It used to be chocolate but I am divided on that now. I love lemon in chicken, desserts, name it! We are in the same temperature zone so we are also having some gloomy days too. Today is meant to be sunny I. The afternoon and I sure look forward to that!

  2. They sound perfect! (and I'm singing that in my head, because now I want spring to come too)

  3. Those sound yummy. I've never made lemon bars, but I have come to love them and all things lemon. Are these a little tart? I like them a little more tart than most I suspect. Not too sweet.

  4. This makes three of us who developed from chocolate fanatics to lemon fanatics. I like both, but really go for lemon. MMMM lemon bars!

    best... mae at

  5. I'm not huge on lemon. But I do find it refreshing when I eat it. It does taste like summer. Which I am sorely missing as well. Anyhow, I like a good lemon bar every once in a while. Glad you could find a recipe to trust.

  6. I LOVE LOVE LOVE lemon bars -- well, anything lemon. I used to bake a similar recipe all the time when I was teen. I'm definitely going to have to give this version a try.

  7. Mmm...I do love lemony desserts.

  8. Love anything lemon! Cheers from Carole's Chatter!

  9. I always think I don't care for lemon bars, but then I see them and then have them and they are just the best things ever!!

  10. I am a fan of any lemon dessert--especially cakes and bars. They sound delicious!
    Aloha, Deb--Kahakai Kitchen

  11. Oh I remember contemplating that cookbook. I can't remember the last time I had a lemon bar. I like lemon but usually not in dessert. I may have to try them again though :D

  12. I never cared much for lemon bars most of my life, but I think that may have been because I never tasted one that was made with real lemon juice until I was quite on years! This recipe sounds delicious!

  13. I worked part-time at a highend dress shop during my first college stint and twice a year they had a fashion show and there were refreshments served. The catering company always brought these fabulous lemon bars for the buffet. I asked the caterer for the recipe and I was surprised that she gave it to me. I never used it until Baz was in elementary school and participating in bake sales started for me. I thought they would he great because of all the brownies and chocolate chip cookies that usually dominated the tables, and I was right! My lemon bars always went like hotcakes and a couple of other mothers started making raspberry bars and peanut butter bars to liven things up. I haven't made them in a long while, but this recipe looks very similar. I think I will make some for Easter now that you have me thinking about them! Great post. :)

  14. My mom used to make a lemon cake that I still have dreams about. I am sure she still makes it but not when I come over since my husband and daughter couldn't eat it anyway. My mouth was watering as soon as I thought of lemon bars. I may try to try this recipe with gluten free flour because it sounds fantastic. Great post!

  15. I'm going to have to give these a try. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE lemon bars but I have never been able to make the successfully. Usually they're a mushy mess (that still taste delicious and don't prevent me from eating them but wouldn't look nice on brunch display).

    We're going to be gray and cloudy and rainy all week here...something that I dread, so I might just have to whip up something a little lemony!