We returned last week from a very Emma-friendly vacation to Disney World. We all had a very good time – so good that none of us were really ready to come home, especially to 15+ cm of new snow.
Before we left, we were all starting to feel the mid-winter blues and so, one evening for dessert, Emma picked something that brought a little sunshine – lemon squares. I have always enjoyed lemony desserts – one of my favourites being tarte au citron. For one reason or another, again, have generally opted away from making them myself and instead purchasing them (sounds like my cinnamon bun problem). And Emma has always had an affinity for lemon. Back when she was just about a year old, she would always reach over and lick the lemon quarters brought to go with fish and chips, cups of tea, etc. This seemed like a win-win for everyone!
In my search for a lemon squares recipe, I started looking through my cookbook collection and then went online. A Google search returned 267,000 results! This search needed to be simplified – I wanted something not too eggy, very lemony, quick and easy to make. The candidate recipe was from a book I received as a Christmas gift. It was a bit light on the lemon, but that would be easy to resolve.
The original ingredients list is all by weight which I’ve converted. There was no superfine sugar (which I could have made in the food processor) in our pantry, but found that using granulated sugar actually didn’t adversely impact the final product. Nor did slightly reducing the butter and adding more lemon.
These are very popular with everyone we’ve served them to. G likes his with no icing sugar on top and placed into the freezer for a few minutes before he has them. Emma likes hers at room temperature, with or without icing sugar.
Zippy Lemon Bars
inspired by: Chocolate & Baking: Quick and Easy, Proven Recipes
(makes 12-16 bars)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1-2 tsp vanilla sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs (I’ve made these with medium, large or extra-large eggs without a problem)
- rind and juice of 1-2 lemons (two if you’d like it extra zippy)
- 1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted (optional)
Line an 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper. Keep some hanging over your edges so it’ll be easier to remove from the pan once everything is baked and cooled. Preheat the oven to 325F.
Starting with the crust, mix the flour, sugar and butter together and crumble the mixture with your hands until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Pour it into your prepared cake pan and firmly press it down.
Bake for 20-22 minutes, until pale golden brown.
While the crust bakes, mix together the additional sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, lemon juice and rind until smooth. You can do this by hand (which takes a bit longer) or in a food processor (which is a bit more cleanup). Pour it over the baked base.
Bake for an additional 20-22 minutes. The centre will be a bit wobbly still – that’s ok. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Once cooled, to serve, cut into bars and dust with icing sugar (if desired). Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (if they last that long!).