Lemon Bars are a favorite in my home.
Everyone seems to enjoy
the combination of a buttery crisp shortbread topped with a tangy lemon
filling. The lemon filling actually separates
into two layers as it bakes, so you have a thin cake-like crust with a
soft and creamy lemon filling underneath. Lemon Bars, also called Lemon
Squares or Lemon Slices, are instantly recognizable because of their
liberal coating of snowy white powdered sugar. They are wonderfully
In order for these Lemon Bars to have a nice citrus flavor, you need to
use fresh lemons, so try not to use the imitation lemon juice that comes in a bottle. When choosing lemons make
sure to look for ones that are fragrant with bright yellow
skins. They should be firm, plump, and heavy for their size. Avoid lemons that have blemishes, soft spots, green spots, or are hard and
wrinkled. Lemons consist of a yellow outer rind (skin) that contains
the fruit's oils and perfumes. This outer rind, of varying thickness
and graininess, can have either a bumpy or smooth glossy texture that
contains most of the lemon's wonderful tangy flavor. Before removing
the outer rind (zest) make sure you wash the lemons thoroughly (soap and
water is best). The rind (zest) can be removed using a knife, vegetable peeler, grater
or microplane zester. Inside the outer rind is a white membrane (pith) that is very bitter
and should not be used. Small vessels called 'pulp
vesicles' make up the inside of the lemon and contain the pleasantly
acidic lemon juice and seeds. Squeezing the lemon by hand or with a lemon
squeezer or reamer releases this clear tart juice.
Bars: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack
in the center of the oven. Line an 8 inch (20
cm) square baking pan with foil (or parchment paper) and butter the foil.
In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter
until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until creamy smooth. Add the flour and salt and beat until the
dough just starts to come together. Press onto the bottom of your prepared pan and bake
for about 18 - 20 minutes, or until lightly brown around the edges. Remove from oven and place on a
wire rack to cool while you make the filling.
In a bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar. Stir in
the flour and salt. In another large
bowl, whisk the eggs. Gradually whisk in the sugar mixture until smooth. Add the
lemon juice and stir to combine. Pour the filling over the shortbread crust and
bake for about 18-20 minutes, or just until the filling has set. Remove from
oven and place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the bars
for about one hour or until firm. This will make it easier to cut the Lemon
To Serve: Cut into
squares and dust with powdered sugar. Lemon Bars can be
covered and stored
in the refrigerator for about three days.
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