I’m going to start by saying that finding the perfect lemon bar recipe has been something like a saga, or perhaps even an odyssey. As simple as this sour treat might seem, recipes for lemon bars are all over the board. Though the flaky shortbread crust is almost always the same, the ingredients for the lemon filling vary widely. I can safely say I’ve tried most of the variations: flour, no flour, cornstarch, egg yolks only, butter, no butter; I felt that even Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen‘s genius idea to puree a whole de-seeded lemon into the filling would surely do the trick for my sour-loving palate. Yesterday, I threw all caution to the wind and decided to try crafting a recipe from scratch, starting with a whole lotta lemon zest.
It only gets better from there, I promise. Make ’em for your sweetie for Valentine’s Day, especially if they’re like my beau, who doesn’t like cake (!!!) but is a sucker for anything lemon.
Pucker Up! Lemon Bars
Makes 1 9″ by 13″ pan
For the crust:
1 c. oat flour (to make oat flour, throw some gluten-free oats into your food processor)
1 c. sorghum “sweet white” flour
1/4 c. flaxseed meal
1/4 c. coconut flour
1/4 c.granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks butter
For the lemon filling:
6 large organic lemons*
2/3 c. lemon pulp puree
2/3 c. lemon zest
3/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 organic pasture-raised eggs
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. sorghum “sweet white” flour
* Because this recipe calls for lots of zest, I highly recommend springing for organic lemons, which contain no pesticide residues.
To make the lemon filling:
1. Using a microplane zester, zest all six of your lemons. Measure 2/3 c. lemon zest (you might have extra!) and set aside in a small bowl.
2. Using a very sharp knife, slice your lemons into medium-sized wedges (about six per lemon) and gently squeeze the juice into a liquid measuring cup until you reach 3/4 cup. Strain to remove any seeds, then pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
3. Carefully peel the lemon flesh away from the skin, remove any seeds, and place into a food processor or blender. If you like to clean as you go, go ahead and discard the skins! I was rather messy about this process, as you can see:
4. Puree the lemon flesh until smooth. Six large lemons yielded a little more than the 2/3 of a cup necessary for this recipe, so be sure to measure 2/3 of a cup and discard the rest. If you have a bit less than 2/3 of a cup, add a little extra lemon juice.
5. Return 2/3 c. lemon pulp puree back to the food processor and add 2/3 c. lemon zest. Blend until smooth, then add the mixture to the lemon juice.
6. Add 6 organic eggs and stir to combine.
7. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, and flour. Add the lemon mixture and whisk gently until ingredients are combined.
8. Set the bowl of lemon filling aside and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To make the crust:
1. In a large bowl, combine flours, salt, and sugar and mix until well incorporated.
2. Cut room temperature butter into small pieces, and mix with a fork or your hands until it forms a flaky dough.
3. Line the bottom of a 9″ by 13″ pan with wax paper. Grease the bottom and sides of pan with butter or cooking spray. Gently press the dough into the bottom of the pan and pinch to form walls on the sides, so the edges of the bars won’t burn.
4. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes, until very lightly brown and dry to the touch. Remove and let cool slightly.
5. When crust has cooled, carefully pour the lemon filling into the crust. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes, until the filling no longer moves when you shake the pan slightly. Don’t be afraid to watch them closely, especially if you have an oven light! Take them out at the faintest hint of browning.
6. Let the bars cool, then chill them in the fridge for a few hours before serving. For extra-pretty straight edges, freeze them overnight and then cut them into squares.
That’s all, folks. Happy Valentine’s Day!