Lemon on the Brain

The 11-year old Neighbor, after sampling the lemon wafers, put in a special request for Lemon Bars. She mentioned that she had seen them on a television program and was wondering what they tasted like. She also stated that she liked to eat lemons in the raw. Hmmm, I wonder if these will be lemony enough.

The Borders bookstore near us is closing (possibly making way for Wegman's!!!) and I, forever tempted by sale items, picked up The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco, former pastry chef at Craft, Craftbar and 'wichcraft.  She has a wonderful recipe for lemon bars which includes flour and baking powder for the lemon filling.  I followed the recipe to a t, except I reduced the sugar by 1/4 cup.

To be honest, I don't always take the time to cube the butter, but since they had to be photo-ready...

I love my microplane grater, an excellent tool to have.  You just have to watch your fingers and those razor sharp edges.

The Sister gave me this cast aluminum juicer, which has come in handy as of late.

All the lemon bars recipes I've ever tried instruct you to pat the dough in. This additional step of rolling ensures an even crust with no dark brown spots.  

I have to say, these are my favorite lemon bars to date, though that might only last until the next recipe I try.  I particularly love the texture of the smooth and creamy filling.  The Son concurs, though for him, they are his all-time favorite cookie, period.   Thank you, Ms. DeMasco!

Luscious Lemon Bars
adapted from Karen DeMasco's The Craft of Baking

12 T. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for the pan
1/4 c. plus 2T. confectioners' sugar
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

4 large eggs
1 3/4 c. granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons), strained
1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. kosher salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt on low speed until there are no chunks of butter, about 3 minutes.  Add half of the flour, and mix just until combined; repeat with the remaining flour.  Form the dough into a 5x5-inch square, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour (or overnight).

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment and grease it with butter.  (I lined mine with foil.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough into a 10-inch square, about 1/8 inch thick.  Transfer it to the prepared baking pan by rolling the dough around the rolling pin and then unrolling it over the pan.  Fit the dough into the corners and sides of the pan. (The dough should come up about 1 inch on all sides of the pan.)  Chill for 10 minutes in the freezer (or, well-wrapped, for up to 1 month).

Remove the crust from the freezer and bake, rotating the pan once halfway through, until golden, about 28 minutes.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture just to combine.  

Remove the crust from the oven and pour the filling into it.  Return the pan to the oven and bake, rotating the pan once halfway through, until the filling is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 40 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool completely.  Cut into 32 1x2-inch bars.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.


  1. They look and sound scrumptious! I'm going to try to make some this weekend. I'll let you know how they turn out.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. oops.. that would be lemony lemon BARS...

  4. sigh.. as I was saying, if you love lemony lemon bars... try the Cook's Illustrated version. Uses 2/3 cup lemon juice and has a shortbread crust.

  5. Yes, I've tried the Cook's Illustrated version, which is good, but I like this one better. The filling won me over.

  6. Now I'm going to have to try your version :-)


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