California smells good in the spring.
More importantly, California has a spring. I’ve been living on the east coast where I feel too often we jumped straight from cold to hot. It’s been in the 60’s for about a month here. Flowers are blooming and oh so fragrant.
But wait, it gets better: there are citrus trees everywhere! I’m not kidding! It is such a treat to see them all around… as common as daffodils on the east coast!
So when your boss brings in a bag of 20+ lemons from his backyard… you make lemon bars.
If that’s not a good enough reason, here are a few more: they are the perfect spring time treat, you will get lemon juice all over your hands and then smell like lemons for the rest of the day, and they are the happiest yellow you’ve ever seen.
I knew the happy yellow would win you over…
Lemons proved to be very photogenic and love to have their pictures taken!
If you’re like me, you may be expecting the filling to be more curd-like. But really it’s going to be quite viscous. I recommend trying not to dip your finger in for a taste as you will then be overwhelmed with the urge to drink the whole thing.
Recipe (adapted from the Grand Central Baking Book):
2.5 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tbs flour
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
1 tbs lemon zest (I recommend zesting before you squeeze the lemons!)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350. Generously coat 9×13 pan with spray or butter
Make the crust: Whisk flour and salt together. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (hint: I never remember to put my butter out to let it get to room temperature. Stick it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to soften works just as well… be careful not to melt it though!). Add vanilla and mix. Add dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated, yet still crumbly (see picture above)…
Put your crumbles in the pan and distribute evenly. Don’t press the crumbles too much along the bottom, but do push up on the sides (about half way up the pan) to contain the filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes until browned and a little toasty.
While the crust is baking, make your filling! Whisk together eggs, flour, and sugar. Stir in lemon juice, zest, milk, and salt. That’s it! (how easy was that?!)
When your crust is done, turn the oven temp down to 325. Whisk the filling a little to remix it before pouring it over the warm crust (it will sizzle a little, which is strangely rewarding).
Stick that puppy back in the oven (use two hands!) for about 20-25 minutes. The filling should be firm to the touch when done. A good way to judge is when you move the pan, the filling should be pretty solid and not slosh around. Let them cool to room temperature on wire rack (or oven coils in my case), about 30 minutes (I know. Torture.). Cut into whatever size you desire your squares to be. Dust generously with confectioners’ sugar and devour. I’m so excited for you to get to this point! YUM!