Lemon bars are to die for especially when the recipe is made with extra love and care. They are essentially squares that consist of a tender crust covered with a bright lemon topping baked to golden brown perfection and dusted with some powdered sugar.

Making the crust and topping

Lemon bars are also easy to make as long as the person preparing them is already familiar with the two components. The crust is a simple shortbread which is made with flour, softened butter and sugar blended together in a 3:2:1 ratio.

This can be done easily with a food processor lying around. One thing to try with this crust is to substitute powdered sugar for regular sugar to make the dough nicely dry and crumbly.

Now for the topping. This is pretty much a lemon curd, a type of custard made by whipping eggs, sugar and fruit juice in equal parts. It's usually made for filling pre-baked tarts but can also be baked on top of a crust like in this recipe. Lemon curd is especially delicious when fresh juice is used along with some zest.

However, a curd doesn't use other dairies like heavy cream, and as such, it will require some extra thickening. While this can be done easily by adding some flour or cornstarch, some might not like the taste that comes with them. So a good alternative is throwing some extra yolks into the recipe. As protein cooks, it coagulates and thickens the base, so the extra protein will simply thicken the curd even more.

Now the additional protein might seem like a mistake to some experts since the trick to making any custard is to not fully cook the eggs through to avoid lumps forming in the mixture.

This is why they prefer the starches as they can be fully incorporated into a mixture in smaller amounts. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this: a microwave.

For those who are skeptical about this, lemon curd can definitely be prepared this way and it should be given it's faster, safer, and easier. Just pour the mixture into a microwavable dish, then pop that into the microwave to cook for five minutes--stopping to stir the curd each minute--and voila. The recipe is done.

The recipe

Crust ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (60 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup ( 28 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt

Filling ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp (1 lemon) lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) unsalted butter

The directions

Crust method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease a 9 x 13-inch tin with butter and line the inside with a sheet of baking parchment big enough to lap over all sides.
  2. Combine the butter and powdered sugar in a food processor and blend until combined. Add the flour and salt and blend until a dry and crumbly dough forms.
  3. Transfer the dough to the pan and gently press it in flat using fingertips. Prick the dough's surface uniformly using a fork so that the steam rises through. Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Remove the pan to cool but don't turn off the oven.

Topping method:

  1. Melt the butter in the microwave.
  2. Whisk together the eggs, yolks, and sugar in a bowl until smooth. Add the lemon juice, and zest to the mixture and whisk until fully combined. Do not over mix.
  3. Put the butter into a medium sized microwavable bowl and melt it in the microwave. Gradually add the curd to the melted butter and whisk together until fully combined.
  4. Return the bowl to the microwave to cook for one-minute intervals, stirring the curd with a spoon in between each stop. Continue for three to five minutes or until the curd becomes thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Assembly method:

  1. Pour the lemon curd over the crust in the tin and level the surface by running a spoon across it. Return the tin to the oven and bake for 10 to 20 minutes or until the curd turns firm and browns. Remove to cool.
  2. After it cools, lift the lemon bars out of the pan carefully by holding the parchment at both ends. To make the squares, use a knife to cut the lemon bars length wise into three equal strips, then cut the strips widthwise into four equal squares.
  3. Dust the surface of the squares with powdered sugar and serve.

Serves: 12

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