Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Lemon bars

It's summer here in Sydney and I've no business buying single lemons for $2 when there's all sorts of amazing stone fruit still in stores but I was craving lemon tart. This presented somewhat of a conundrum as lemon tart is not the sort of craving that can be satisfied quickly. There's pastry to be made, rested, rolled out, refrigerated, a food processor to be dragged from the cupboard (and washed afterwards), not to mention a finished tart to be cooled. Hooray for lemon bars. All the taste of a tart, with none of the hassle. 

The bar cookie is an American baking classic, a mainstay of picnics and potlucks. They're brilliantly portable and utterly unpretentious. What you see is what you get and here it's a burnished gold top, a dense, buttery biscuit base and sandwiched between them, a sweetly tart custardy lemon filling. This recipe uses everyday ingredients, whole eggs (no separating or extra yolks), the zest and juice of a single lemon, and, best of all, one mixing bowl. It takes hardly any time to make, only 25 minutes to bake, and not too long to cool. And because it's meant to be cut, you have no compunction about eating a piece before guests arrive.

Lemon bars
Adapted from a recipe on the blog Dinner with Julie

If you did want to use a food processor to make these, you absolutely could. It's the same one bowl principle, just a few more parts to wash afterwards that's all.
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
pinch salt

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
2 large eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt; add the butter and blend with a fork or pastry cutter until well blended and crumbly. Press into the bottom of an 8x8-inch pan and bake for 10 minutes, until barely golden around the edges. 

In the same bowl (no need to wash!), stir together the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, lemon zest and juice and stir until well blended and smooth. Pour over the base.

Return to the oven for 25–30 minutes, until slightly golden on top and bubbly around the edges. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into whatever size suits you.


  1. Ah! Lemon Bars - nothing better for a quick fix and delight on the palate. And Betty Steele's go to recipe for dessert! Thanks for reminding me of how much she meant to us all.

  2. Looks great Alice -I love a one bowl recipe! I think I shall try this with Jack!