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Sunshine Lemon Bars

These easy lemon bars have a thick shortbread crust and a sweet tart lemon filling! They really are a burst of sunshine!

Lemon Bars are my culinary way of letting Mother Nature know that I am over this winter. So over it. I needed something bright and zingy to cheer me up and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about lemons this entire week. Something about their bright color (contrasting with the shades of grey outside) and tart flavor kept calling my name.

These easy lemon bars have a thick shortbread crust and a sweet tart lemon filling! They really are a burst of sunshine!

So…I bought double my usual amount of lemons at the farmer’s market with no plan for what to do with them. Generally my motto is “No plan is a bad plan”, which is totally true unless the lack of plan ends in Lemon Bars!

Oh Happiness!

These easy lemon bars have a thick shortbread crust and a sweet tart lemon filling! They really are a burst of sunshine!

This lemon bar has the perfect amount of tartness to balance the sweetness. The tops have the perfect custard consistency without being too runny or too dense. The bottom crust is thick and chewy with a little crispness. I’ll have none of those over done, dry lemon bar crusts of my Youth in this kitchen, thank you very much!

I like my lemon bar crust less dense and crunchy, so I followed in the footsteps of Averie at Averie Cooks and added a tablespoon of cornstarch to the dough. In addition to the cornstarch, I baked my crust in a parchment lined pyrex baking dish, which also produces a softer, less crispy crust. I always bake my brownies, blondies and layer bars in glass – foods cook slower in glass, so I have found that the whole bar will be done at the same time and you never cut into them to find that the top is perfect but the bottom is overcooked.

Ah the power of pyrex!

These easy lemon bars have a thick shortbread crust and a sweet tart lemon filling! They really are a burst of sunshine!

My Husband claims that part of the charm of the Lemon Bar is the contrast between a dense crust and the custard topping. I can see that. If you, like my Husband, are a fan of a denser, crispier crust, simply omit the cornstarch and bake in a metal baking dish.

These easy lemon bars have a thick shortbread crust and a sweet tart lemon filling! They really are a burst of sunshine!

I (clearly) have very strong opinions about my lemon bars, so I read a bunch of recipes online and in my personal hoard of cookbooks (the first reference was in 1984, for the curious ones out there) and developed my own. Three of my blogger influences were Epicurean Mom, Averie Cooks and Baked Bree.

I found that the crust recipes were generally very similar but the number of eggs and ratio of sugar to lemon juice varied widely. In search of my perfect balance of tart to sweet, I added my lemon juice in by the tablespoon and tasted. I would use no less than 3 tablespoons of fresh juice and 1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon zest in this recipe.

 These easy lemon bars have a thick shortbread crust and a sweet tart lemon filling! They really are a burst of sunshine!

In any other recipes calling for lemon zest I have made a passing note about zesting carefully to avoid the bitter pith, but I feel that it is important to expound on that tiny note here. Be extra careful to zest only the sweet, dark yellow skin and none of the white, bitter pith below it. I am probably overly cautious in my zesting, but I have tasted baked goods, in which too much of the pith has been included, and they are disgusting. It will ruin your treats. And that would be sad. So if a few extra lemons have to be sacrificed to the zesting process, it seems a small sacrifice to make.

Sunshine Lemon Bars

Yield: 16 Bars

Sunshine Lemon Bars

These Lemon Bars have the perfect balance of tart and sweet with an amazing custard consistency even at room temperature. The crust is a delicious combination of soft and crispy.

Ingredients

    For the Crust:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar (do not substitute granulated)
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 large pinch sea salt
  • For the Lemon Topping:
  • 2 eggs + egg yolk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 5 tablespoons lemon juice (more / less to taste)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Instructions

    To Prepare the Crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a glass 8 inch x 8 inch baking dish with parchment paper or simply butter.
  2. Sift flour, sugar and cornstarch together in a medium bowl. Whisk in salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. You could also use a food processor but the crust is so easy, it hardly seems worth washing it.
  3. Press firmly into prepared dish and baking in preheated oven for 15-25 minutes. If you are using a glass dish, the baking time will be on the longer side. Bake until the top of the crust is just starting to brown and it doesn’t look “doughy”. Contrary to popular belief, the top of the crust will not continue to cook under the lemon custard.
  4. To Prepare the Lemon Topping:
  5. While you crust bakes, whisk the eggs and egg yolk in a medium bowl until lighter and frothy. Whisk in sugar, 3 tablespoons strained lemon juice, and cream. Taste and add more lemon juice to taste.
  6. Sift in flour, whisk until combined and no lumps remain.
  7. Add lemon zest to taste. Whisk to combine. I whisked for an additional two minutes, but this is probably unnecessary.
  8. Pour over warm crust and bake at 350° just until the topping is set and it doesn’t jiggle in the center. I accidentally baked mine a few minutes too long, and it still had a beautiful consistency. So don’t stress.
  9. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Dust with confectionary sugar just before serving. If it is too humid, your powdered sugar will just melt into the tops of your bars, which will still taste great but it won’t look as lovely.
https://cheflindseyfarr.com/2014/02/sunshine-lemon-bars/

More Lemony Goodness:

Easy Lemon Curd

Easy Homemade Lemon CurdFunfetti Lemon Pudding Cookies

Lemon Pudding Cookies

Strawberry Lemon Scones 

Strawberry Lemon SconesEasy Lemon Strawberry Shortcake {For Two}

Easy Lemon Strawberry Shortcake

 Lemon Raspberry Bread Pudding

Lemon-Raspberry-Bread-Pudding-1503228721Double Chocolate Lemon Surprise Cupcakes

Double Chocolate Lemon Surprise Cupcakes

 

4 Comments

  • Lelia
    February 16, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Bring on the Sunshine and the Lemon Bars!

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      February 16, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      Haha! Absolutely! Although I would settle for just Lemon Bars 😉

      Reply
  • Josephine
    February 17, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    If I hadn’t recently rejoined Weight Watchers, I would make these – they look wonderful, and your photos are beautiful!!

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      February 17, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      {Blush} Thanks, Josephine! Your praise means a lot!

      And they are super yummy but definitely not Weight Watchers friendly…

      Reply

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