Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Best Lemon Bars

Lemon bars is probably one of my biggest weaknesses when it comes to pastries. I cannot leave them alone but the thing is.....I really dislike making them. I hate zesting all of those lemons. I hate juicing all those lemons. I hate evenly distributing and patting the shortbread crust into the pan (I have long fingernails and it just does not work. My husband always ends up doing the crust part). So lemon bars are not often made in my house because it's not a project I enjoy. But the thing is, everyone loves lemon bars! This recipe is one that I've had for about 15 years now. I found it in the Seattle Times food section and I vaguely remember that it was a recipe by a Vietnamese man who worked in a local bakery and it was a well known and wanted recipe. I have the recipe on the original newsprint - this tiny scrap of yellowed paper that has been splattered with lemon juice, eggs & lord knows what else. It's similar to many lemon bar recipes that I've seen but this one is my favorite. I always add more zest than called for and a bit more juice. I made a triple recipe of this and made it in my 3/4 sheet pan. I'm selling them at work tomorrow and I'm sure they will be a big hit. This is a classic lemon bar recipe. Enjoy them! I must have eaten, no lie, 6 of them while cutting them. Every time I had to "trim" one of the bars so it would be the appropriate size, the scraps went in my mouth!

After cutting the bars, I package them in a little plastic clamshell like container (I get those at the Japanese dollar store too!). I label each contain with these stickers. I like the look of homemade goodies with a handwritten label. Kind of gives them a rustic, homemade, down home look. It wouldn't look the same if I were to print the labels out using a font.

Bags of lemons were on sale at QFC for $1.88! That's why I decided to make these. I put all of the necessary equipment to zest and juice the lemons on a big tray and placed it right on my husband's lap in front of the TV. I figured he might as well make himself useful if he is doing "nothing". Good job Larry.

This recipe calls for 1 teaspoon lemon zest. I always put 1 tablespoon. Maybe more. I like my lemon bars really tangy. I add a bit more juice than called for but not too much because I don't want to add so much liquid that it won't set up.

Check out the shortbread crust on these babies! The recipe says to bake the crust , without the filling, for 8 to 10 minutes, I bake it till it's golden, longer than 10 minutes. After the filling is poured into the hot crust, you continue baking it. I bake it on a high rack so the bottom does not get overdone but the end results is a very crunchy shortbread - no sogginess on the bottom at all.
Look at that lemon filling oozing out!

The Best Lemon Bars

For crust:

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Dash salt

For filling:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup flour

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teasoon lemon zest

Spray a 9x13 pan with Pam - or line with foil & spray.

For crust: Cream together the butter and sugar. Add flour and salt until completely combined. Press dough into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes on until light golden brown.

For filling: Whisk together eggs & sugar. Add flour & combine until smooth. Stir in juice & zest. Pour into pan with crust. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the middle no longer looks liquidy.

Let cool completely and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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