This is an updated version of my lemon squares recipe originally published in May 23, 2005.
This pastry comes by many names. Cut them into bars and they’re known as lemon bars. Bake in a tart pan and it’s a lemon tart. Bake in a pie pan and it’s known as a lemon meringue pie. I’ve always cut them into squares so I call them lemon squares. I baked a huge batch yesterday, twice the recipe below, for more gift-giving.
The recipe is from my sister-in-law, Ava. This updated version uses lemon zest (as suggested in one of the comments below) and the baked pastries are thinner which I find less overwhelming. A lot of acid goes into these things and a substantially sized piece can be a little harsh on the throat. When they are this thin – half an inch in height just like most cookies — I find them to be just right. And, for some, reason, when they are this thin, a light, dry, crisp web-like crust forms on top and there is really no read for powdered sugar to make the pastries look attractive. That’s a lot less sugar so that can’t be bad for you.
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup butter softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- juice of one lemon plus kalamansi juice to equal 1/3 c.
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- additional powdered sugar for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Make the crust. Sift together the flour and the powdered sugar. Blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Place in an ungreased 12-1/2" x 17-1/2" x 1" jelly roll pan and press lightly with the fingers. Bake in a 350F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.
While the crust bakes, prepare the filling. Sift together the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the sifted ingredients to the eggs and mix to blend. Pour in the lemon juice and lemon extract and mix until well blended. Pour the mixture over the baked crust and bake in a 350F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar on top (optional) and cut into 2" x 2" squares.
To store, refrigerate in an air-tight container. If stacking in several layers, separate each layer with non-stick baking paper. The lemon squares are best served chilled.