Classic Lemon Bars
We all know the deal around here.
I take classic recipes, add chocolate chips, add orange zest, bake them, brown them, stack them, and then shoot them. I can’t make banana bread without first browning the butter. I can’t make pudding without adding bourbon. I can’t make biscuits without adding bacon.
It’s ridiculous and mostly delicious.
Sometimes though… sometimes I just want a Chocolate Chip Cookie. Sometime I just want a Chocolate Walnut Brownie. Some baked good should just be exactly what they are, sans bacon, sans bourbon (gasp) (but really though, we’ll survive).
Expect to see more classic recipes on Joy the Baker in the coming weeks. I’m in the mood and here we are!
Classic Lemon Bars: bright, tart, buttery crust, aaaannnddd go!
I scooped my butter to look like ice cream. I’m sorry. Sometimes food blogging gets the best of me.
Lemon bars emerge from the oven in two parts. First there’s the buttery shortbread crust. On top of the baked shortbread crust goes a sweet egg and lemon custard. No rolling pin. No double boiler or candy thermometer. It’s an easy recipe in a manageable 8×8-inch pan. I’m trying to get you to make these along with me. Can you tell?
Butter, sugar, flour, and a pinch of salt are beaten together for the crust. Once crumbly (yea… crumbly) it is pressed into a baking pan.
Pressing a crust into a pan is validating.
Eggs are whisked with sugar and lemon. The filling is pretty simple too!
There are definitely a few seeds hiding in that unbaked filling. I’m not going to lie.
The filling is poured over the pre-baked crust and the whole shabang is baked once again. The filling will firm up and brown around the edges in no time! It really is supreme!
The edges are my favorite. They’re perfectly caramelized and chewy like brownies. The center is for suckers.
Super tart fresh lemon juice adds all of the kick to these lemon bars. Fresh lemon zest is the very hard-working backup. These bars feature a wonderfully buttery crust, and a sweet and tart lemon custard. Topped with a generous amount of powdered sugar, these bars are exactly as they should be. Classic.
One tip: don’t inhale.
Recipe adapted from my first cookbook: the Joy the Baker Cookbook.
Classic Lemon Bars
makes 9 bars
For the Crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
For the Topping:
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8×8-inch baking pan, line with parchment paper (so that it over hangs slightly from the pan) and grease the parchment paper. Set aside.
To make the crust, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add flour and salt. Beat on low speed until dough is incorporated. Dough may come together, but if it remains shaggy, that’s fine too.
Dump the crust into the prepared pan and use your fingertips to press the dough into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until just browned around the edges.
You can make the filling while the crust is baking! In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until well combined and slightly thick. Add the flour, lemon juice, and zest and whisk until blended.
Pour the filling over the still warm baked crust. Return to the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and no longer jiggling in the center.
Allow to cool completely in the pan. Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Slice lemon bars into nine squares. Use the over hanging parchment paper to lift the squares out. To store the lemon bars, place them in an airtight container separated by wax paper layers.