Sloshing through snow at Minnesota’s Twin Cities airport, I eagerly anticipated a spring break from a Midwest winter super chill — a real R and R at our cabin in the coastal California redwoods.
Upon arrival, I discovered a mini crop of bright, ready-to-pick Meyer lemons growing on our deck, a reminder of why I love a West Coast spring. I picked the “California gold” and put a few lemons with leaves in a pretty bowl for a table centerpiece, squeezed one in hot water with grated ginger for a morning wake-up, and by evening, doused another on fresh fish I picked up at the wharf for supper.
What was next? Lemonade? It wasn’t summer yet. How about keeping it simple and making a favorite dessert from my childhood, I thought: Lemon bars. To update the taste of the traditional recipe, I added lots of lemon zest to the batter for extra kick.
Lemon bars are a classic and a perfect little “sweet” to serve for a snack or dessert to remind us of sunny springtime. It’s an ideal recipe for involving kids in the prep, too. When you let one child use his nimble fingers to spread out the easy-to-mix crust layer on the baking dish while another zests and squeezes the lemons, you’ll be on the home stretch to pop it in the oven.
Bake, cool and bring in the kids to sift the powdered sugar on top before you slice it into squares. Or, any shape — why not triangles?
Makes 32 bars
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
For the filling:
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
To make the crust, mix together the flour, butter, sugar and salt. Pat the mixture down evenly into the baking pan with your hands. Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
To make the filling, while the crust layer is baking, beat together the eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice and lemon zest. Pour over baked crust.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the filling is set. Let cool on a rack to room temperature.
With a sieve, dust with the powdered sugar. Cut into bars.