My favorite lemon bar recipe (at least lately) is from Cara Tannenbaum (Daily News, April 25, 1999). These bars have a nice lemon zing, with a just thick enough layer of lemon. My mother raved about Aunt Myra’s bars, so I gave them a shot.
Myra’s bars push the upper limit in terms of the depth of the lemon curd layer. They are more like lemon pie squares, the filling is so thick and creamy. Everyone really, really liked these bars, but they are quite sweet and need to be served with a fork, like a slice of pie.
Myra’s Lemon Bars
Crust (basically the same as Cara’s, except Cara adds in 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla)
1 cup of butter or margarine (8 ounces)
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
2 cups of all purpose flour
Beat the butter or margarine in a mixing bowl until softened and smooth. Scrape down the bowl. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light in color and texture. Scrape down the bowl. Add the flour and mix until just combined.
Now spread the batter to form an even layer in a 9×13 pan. (Cara calls for lining the pan with foil. This makes it easier to get the bars out of the pan, but harder to spread the batter because the foil slides around a bit. Why do you need to line the pan? Because the lemon mixture sometimes oozes under the crust as it bakes and forms a hard candy-like substance that basically glues the crust to the pan. Not good. Another option is greasing the pan and laying a piece of parchment on top. Heavy-duty non-stick foil as a liner is probably the safest bet, though.) Bake the crust in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes (I baked it for 25 minutes). The crust should be set and starting to brown a bit on the edges.
While the crust is baking, you should be whipping up the filling, so that you can take the pan from the oven just as the crust is set and starting to brown, pour the filling over the still hot crust, and then whisk the bars back into the oven to finish baking.
6 Tbl. all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
9 Tbl. lemon juice (4-5 lemons)
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Combine the filling ingredients. (Cara warns that over whisking the eggs leads to an unpleasantly hard crust, so go easy). Pour the filling over the hot crust and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. (The original recipe called for baking a mere 25 minutes, but my mother and I found that the filling needs more time). If the filling sloshes around when you start to take the pan out of the oven, let the bars bake longer. The filling will be set, and just a little loose in the very center of the pan when the bars are done baking. Under baking will leave you with a soupy mess, so exercise caution here.
Tags: lemon bars