Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ode to a lemon- Lemon Bars

Finally, I can start a blog post to explain the name of my blog!!

Without noticing it at first, lemons crept into my cooking, baking and eating. From lemon slices squeezed onto seafood for acidity, a fragrant lemony basil pasta, the crisp taste of fresh-squeezed lemonade, and the joy of a lemon meringue pie-- lemons are really a common thread in the foods I enjoy.

Despite the fact that I love baking, I have never had a sweet tooth- if anything, I prefer the salty, spicy and sour. I prefer strong flavors that please my palate. In many dishes and desserts, it seems like lemons are the perfect foil to delicious food! So my rule of thumb for preparing food- a spoonful of lemons (or lemon juice)- will get you there. It's what you need to take many foods to the next level. What would buttery crab be without a spritz of lemon?

And that's why I prefer a spoonful of lemons to a spoonful of sugar.

Lemon bars are a perfect example of the beauty of the lemon. I despise overly sweet lemony desserts- if there isn't a bite to it, then what's the point? So this is an Ina Garten recipe- altered to cut the sweetness. It's not mouth puckering by any means- no one who has tried it has said that this was too sour. I hope you find it delectable!
For the crust:


Adapted from a Barefoot Contessa Recipe

  • 1/2 pound butter (or 1 cup), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup flour
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl with an electric mixer.
3. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed.
4. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.
5. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
6. For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
7. Cut into squares, dust with confectioners' sugar, and serve!


  1. looks great! i've tried ina's but like you, i enjoy less-sweet desserts...this one's definately going on the "to try" list.

  2. When life gives you a spoonful of lemons, you give em hell...The Snark

  3. Anonymous:
    Thanks for the comment! I've noticed Ina likes her butter and sugar.. I cut down the sugar with no problem and next time I might cut down on the butter as well.

  4. I just made these, they are delicious! Thanks for the great idea!

  5. Im going to try this for the luncheon Im attending next week because I had a bunch of lemons that I stripped of it's skin for limoncello. I love Ina, but I hear her recipes are sometimes too sweet or too salty, so this sounds perfect! Thank you