These lemon bars have a flaky shortbread crust with the perfect balance of tart and sweet. Perfect for brunch, a party, or dessert!
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Spring has officially sprung here in Napa. Tiny little buds started breaking on the vines and in my backyard before the end of February – one of the earliest bud breaks on record. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, it means when the grape vines come back alive and start growing again. By now flowers are in full bloom all around us and the extended growing season is back.
It also means that it’s the time of year when our lemon tree produces the most! The lemons on our backyard tree are currently falling off left and right, so now is the time for lemon filled recipes. I’ve been using them in both sweet and savory dishes, but I may be starting a slight love affair with these lemon bars.
The luscious lemon filling strikes the perfect balance of tart and tangy with juicy and sweet. The shortbread is perfectly flaky, not too sweet, and melts in your mouth. It took a while for me to get them just right, but it was worth the effort (and the taste tests!!)
Lemon bars are one of the easiest things to make at home, if you have a good recipe. Everything is divided into two main steps: the crust and the filling. For this recipe you will need an 8 inch square cake pan, an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees, and parchment paper. The recipe makes 9 bars and takes about 50 minutes of active time, followed by plenty of time for them to cool completely.
For a full step by step tutorial, check out the video below, or scroll down for a text version of the instructions.
Start with the crust, which involves getting your hands dirty – in a good way! Mix together the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add in the room temperature butter and dig in with your hands. Crumble the flour and butter together until it resembles a dry, sandy mixture, with the butter in pea-sized crumbles.
Butter a piece of parchment paper that is large enough to fully line the pan with a couple extra inches around the edges. The parchment paper will keep the bars from sticking to the pan, at an angle that makes it almost impossible to remove them without breaking them. Pour the crumbly crust mixture onto the parchment paper, then transfer the paper to the pan. Firmly press the crust into the bottom of the pan, adjusting the parchment paper as needed. Bake the crust for 12 – 15 minutes, when the edges start to brown and the center firms up.
While the crust is baking, assemble the filling. In a medium mixing bowl beat the eggs. Then add the sugar, lemon juice, cream, lemon zest, salt, and vanilla. Whisk thoroughly to combine. While continuing to whisk, add the flour gradually to avoid any lumps.
When the crust is done baking, pour the filling on top and return it to the oven for 20 – 25 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the edges begin to brown and the center will be set. The picture below was taken right after the bars were removed from the oven.
Allow the bars to cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then cover and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour to chill. Prior to serving dust the bars with powdered sugar.
Use the parchment paper to gently lift the entire dessert from the cake pan. With a spatula gently loosen the sides and bottom of the bars from the paper. Cut into 9 squares, wiping knife clean between cuts for best presentation.
Enjoy right away!
Have you ever made lemon bars from scratch before? Do you have a spring brunch or party that would be perfect for this recipe? Let me know in the comments below!!
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Classic Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust
- 1 cup flour
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 TBSP cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice approximately 2 lemons worth
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 TBSP heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 TBSP flour
- 1 TBSP powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Start with the crust:
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
- Add in the butter and crumble together until the butter is in pea-sized crumbles.
- Butter a piece of parchment paper that is large enough to fully line the pan with a couple extra inches around the edges.
- Pour the crumbly crust mixture onto the parchment paper, then transfer the paper to the pan.
- Firmly press the crust into the bottom of the pan.
- Bake the crust for 12 - 15 minutes. The edges should start to brown.
While the crust bakes make the filling:
- In a medium mixing bowl beat the eggs. Then add the sugar, lemon juice, cream, lemon zest, salt, and vanilla. Whisk thoroughly to combine.
- Continue to whisk, adding the flour gradually to avoid any lumps.
- Pour the filling on top of the baked crust and return it to the oven for 20 - 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown and the center is set.
- Allow the bars to cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then cover and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour to chill.
- Dust the bars with powdered sugar.
- Use the parchment paper to gently lift the entire dessert from the cake pan and gently loosen the sides and bottom of the bars from the paper using a spatula.
- Cut into 9 squares.
- Serve immediately.
For this recipe you will need an 8" x 8" cake pan, parchment paper, and an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees. The recipe makes 9 bars and takes about 50 minutes total. There is 25 minutes of active time, overlapping with the 40 minutes of cook time, followed by plenty of time for them to cool completely.