1 1/2 c flour
2/3 c powdered sugar
3/4 c butter, softened
2 tsp fresh lemon zest (optional)
6 T flour
2 c sugar (regular white granulated)
3/4 c lemon juice (fresh is the best!)
1 T fresh lemon zest (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Combine ingredients until dough-like (I use a fork); press evenly into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 20 minutes at 350. While this is baking, prepare filling: first combine flour and sugar to make sure all the lumps are out of the flour. Mix in lemon juice and eggs (and zest if you want) and whisk until well-combined and a little frothy. Taste the filling mixture; everyone has a different opinion of the correct sweet/sour ratio of lemon squares! If it's too sour, add another couple of tablespoons of sugar. If it's too sweet, add a little more lemon juice and/or zest. After the crust has baked for 20 minutes, take it out of the oven and pour the filling over it while it's hot. Return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes more. After it has cooled, sprinkle powdered sugar over the top.
- The key (at least for me) to making this turn out best is the baking pan. I have found that my very favorite 9x13 works the best... it's aluminum and has very straight sides and square corners and I bought it at a cake decorating supply store. Looks just like this one. It's perfect for cake-baking and has turned out to be miraculous for brownies, lemon squares, etc. because the whole pan bakes evenly; no overdone edges, etc.
- I am a nerd about eggs... you know those little white stringy parts that connect the white to the yolk? Have you ever noticed biting into a firm little chunk in a cake or brownie and realized it's that little part of the egg baked in there? For something like lemon squares, I want the filling to be smooth and flawless, so I strain the eggs. Just break them into a wire mesh strainer over your mixing bowl, and use the back of a spoon to push the egg through the strainer. It takes a while; in fact if you just scramble the eggs and the walk away for 10 minutes, a lot of it will ooze through on it's own, but then you'll still need to push the rest through. When most of the egg is through you'll be left with those gross white stringy parts in the strainer, and you can rest assured that your lemon squares will be smooth and lovely.
- The best way I know to squeeze fresh lemons without a juicer: cut a lemon in half, stick a fork in the middle of it and squeeze it around the fork, twisting the fork so that all the juice comes out. Putting each lemon in the microwave for 10 seconds or so (before cutting) can help get more of the juice out, but I have found that using a fork is the best trick. Do it over a strainer into a bowl or large measuring cup. If you want to use the lemon zest, zest your lemons before cutting/juicing.
- There's no need to dirty up two mixing bowls; just use the same bowl for the filling that you did for the crust. Aside from juicing the lemons, this recipe really doesn't mess up your kitchen too much.
- I use one of these for dusting lemon bars (or anything else) with powdered sugar. So handy! And this is my favorite zester, fyi. I love it.
- These lemon squares will stay good and yummy for a few days, covered (no need to refrigerate) but they will get a layer of moisture on top and will need to be re-dusted with powdered sugar before serving.