Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lemon Bars

The first time I made Ina Garten’s, it was a complete failure. I halved the recipe, but didn’t think about decreasing the baking time. BIG mistake. The top crust was completely overbaked, the filling was too sweet, and I felt like all I could taste was the lemon curd filling- none of the shortbread crust (which I was so eager to try).

I started looking around, and someone recommended I try Smitten Kitchen- her assessment of Ina’s recipe was dead-on what I was looking for. She, too, likes her shortbread to lemon curd filling to be a 1:1 ratio, and she also felt Ina’s recipe was too sweet. She adapted it, and it was… perfect. It has the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness. The lemon flavor is bright, and the shortbread crust is delectable. The full lemon layer recipe is listed below- however, if you like 1:1 crust to lemon layer ratio, use the 2nd option. The ONLY thing I need to tweak is the shortbread crust. While it had great flavor, it was a bit on the dry side.

Lemon Bars

For the Shortbread Crust

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour (since it was dry, I'll try 1-3/4 cups flour next time)
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt

Ina Garten- For the full-size lemon layer

  • 6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp grated lemon zest (2 large lemons)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup flour
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Smitten Kitchen- For the thinner lemon layer

  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp grated lemon zest (1 large lemon)
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. Grease a 13x9 baking pan.
2. For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
3. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed.
4. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball.
5. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill for 15 minutes
6. While the crust is chilling, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
7. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. (I baked mine for 15 minutes.)Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
8. For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour.
9. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (less if you are using the thinner topping), or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature. (I made the thinner lemon topping, and baked it for 21 minutes.)
10. Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Source: Originally from Ina Garten, As seen on Smitten Kitchen


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