I adore lemon bars, I had never heard of them until I met a friend in my village who had moved from the US, She has given up baking them so i had to learn how..turns out they are very easy and OMG so tasty.
If I am going to be bothered baking, I make sure that it is from scratch and with good ingredients. After all home baking tastes so good and so I want to make sure that there are no nasties lurking in my food. There for I always use real butter, sugar, free range eggs and organic fruit/flour if I can get it. You don't have to do the same, except for the butter...seriously it makes the world of difference to the flavour.
luckily I remember to get a picture, before they were all eaten. I like them rather thin, with a lot of base to the topping, i also like them with the centres quite squidgy, but you can increase the cooking time if you like. The recipe is from joy of cooking, with minor modifications
1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams) butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (25 grams) confectioner's (powdered or icing) sugar
1 cup (130 grams) all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt (if you are using unsalted butter)
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (approximately two large lemons)
grated lemon zest from both lemons
2 tablespoons (25 grams) all purpose flour
Confectioner's (powdered or icing) sugar base
first the base, grease a tin, i used a 10'' loose bottomed round tin, it is actually a cake tin, so the sides are way too high, but that doesnt matter in this case as the sides come off.
Mix softened butter (I use salted, but if you are using unsalted butter add in a pinch of salt) and sugar together using a mixer, or by hand, they should be well creamed, so that they are quite pale, add in flour. The mixture will look dry and crumbly, as in this picture
DO NOT PANIC! this is the way it should be, the best shortbread always looks like this.
Press the mixture into the base of your tin
and bake about 20 minutes or until lightly brown, allow to cool slightly while you make the topping. topping.
Use large lemons, if you get lemons from the supermarket, they will have a layer of wax on them (Unless sold as unwaxed..get these if you can) the best trick I know is to pop the lemons into a pan of warm to hot water for a couple of minutes, scrub them. This will remove the wax, but also the warm water will increase the amount of juice that you get from them.
before you juice them, take off the zest. i have a zester, a very useful tool that you run over the surface of citrus fruit to get just the coloured zest, no white pith. This massively increases the flavour as this is where all of the essential oils are. You will need the zest of both lemons to give a really punchy flavour. If you dont have a zester, you can use a grater, or pare off the zest with a sharp knife and then chop it up..(then go and buy a zester)
One of my other favourite kitchen tools is this little wooden reamer, cut the lemons in half and use the reamer to squeeze out all of the juice, you can also use a fork, but this gets out the most juice.
Mix eggs and sugar thoroughly, a couple of minutes in a mixer should do the trick
add in the lemon juice and zest, and the flour, mix well. Pour the topping over the base and return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes, until the centre is just set (try wobbling it with your finger)
try to allow it to cool before you start eating it, dust with powdered sugar for additional awesomeness.
cut them into bars, or just cut off random chunks everytime you pass the plate, if you are like us