Springtime and lemons just go hand in hand, don't they?!
Okay actually, I haven't always been a fan of lemon desserts but in the last year or so something has changed. I think it has to do with how light and refreshing lemon as a flavor can be. Often times desserts can leave you feeling heavy or over full but I rarely feel that way after something lemony. Plus the bright pop of citrus is just the wake up we all need after winter. Enter in lemon bars!
The inspiration for this recipe came from one of my vintage cookbooks. I absolutely love old cookbooks. It is fun to see how recipes, ingredients, and food trends have changed over time and recreate some of the nostalgic favorite desserts from generations pasts. Also let's be honest, our grandmas knew how to bake and these old recipes will rarely lead you astray. While the "bones" of many of these recipes are good, I often times find myself making little tweaks to make older recipes more flavorful or richer especially when using cookbooks from the 50's-70's when bakers tended to be more frugal with their ingredients. I also usually change the oven temperature and time as cooking appliances have come a long way since then. For this recipe I increased the amount of lemon juice and flour because there was no way 3 tsp of lemon juice in lemon bars was going to be enough!
These lemon bars are simple-- simple ingredients, simple method. Melted butter, powdered sugar, and flour gets stirred together for the shortbread crust. In order to keep the crust from getting soggy (no soggy bottoms here) you need to pre bake it before adding the filling. While the crust is baking whisk up the lemon juice, eggs, sugar, salt, flour, and baking powder and pour that over the hot crust. Then you'll bake them again until the center is barely set. Let them cool to room temp or pop in them fridge before dusting them with powdered sugar! Not bad right?!
The result is the perfect balance of tart and sweet. Crisp, not too sweet, shortbread crust topped with a good layer of tangy lemon filling. Spring Perfection.
Troubleshooting: So lemon bars have this tendency to invert themselves if you aren't careful... Basically the filling seeps under the crust and because it is a liquid most of ends up beneath the crust and you end up with inverted lemon bars! While these still taste great you definitely won't want to serve them and they are a mess to eat. This is speaking from experience, multiple instances of experience ;) It is super important that you press your crust into the pan well and seal all the edges down. I actually recommend that you don't line your pan with parchment as that can cause air pockets to form along the side of the crust for the filling to seep down. Additionally you need to pour the filling on the crust while it is hot. The hot crust will start to set the filling right away which will aid in preventing the dreaded seepage. Learn from my mistakes LOL
Effort Scale: There are few steps and it can be tricky to prevent the filling from seeping beneath the crust but I have faith in you!
And finally, the recipe!