The week I first made these Zesty Lemon Bars, I made them three times. My sweet mother-in-law had blessed me with an overstuffed bag of home grown lemons, tart and fully ripe, ready for use. And use them I did!
Growing up amidst bakers and lovers of food, I rarely saw a store-bought dessert brought to the table. I didn't have much knowledge outside the common European desserts we grew up with. There would, of course, be the occasional new dish followed by exchanges of the recipe, but more likely than not it would be one similar to those I've had all throughout my childhood. Perhaps this is what gave me my ambition to learn to bake, and my eagerness to try foods I haven't yet tried. In my own kitchen, without boundaries I allow myself to experiment, to fail, to try again, to invent and to indulge. And in the end, if I can bring a tray of sweet confections to the table, trailing a tempting smell and delightfully pleasing my guests, it's worth all the work. This lemony confection, with its' crumbly, buttery crust and creamy tart filling pleased my little village and had them asking for more.
Zesty Lemon Bars
Makes 16 bars
Ingredients for Crust:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cubed
Ingredients for Filling:
1-1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour, sifted
4 large eggs
Zest and Juice of 4 large lemons (or 6 small lemons)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan with butter and set aside.
2. Combine 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 cup (2 sticks) of cold cubed butter. You can do this with a pastry cutter or with cold clean hands (run them under cold water for a few seconds). Press the mixture into the greased pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.
3. While crust is baking, make the filling. Mix together 1 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup sifted flour, then add 4 large eggs and the zest and juice of 4 large lemons (or 6 small lemons) until well combined.
4. Pour the lemon mixture over the baked crust and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool on your table for about 15 minutes, then in the fridge for 2 hours.
5. Sift desired amount of powdered sugar over top, then cut into squares. Enjoy!