When Life Gives You Lemons Part I: Lemon Bars

Long time no see, blogosphere. I have nothing but apologies for my nearly three-week absence. This month has been a rush with the start of senior year, string camp, college apps, and everything in between. They don’t lie when they say this year flies by. Luckily, I finally found some time to sit down on this sunny September afternoon to blog, so I present to you part one of a two-part series: When Life Gives You Lemons.

Recently, my mother bought a couple lemons, and I kind of went crazy with them. Citrus-flavored desserts remind me of summer, so I made sure to squeeze out every last drop of potential from those lemons, trying to relive my own summer through the little bursts of sunshine. Recipe number one was Joy the Baker’s Classic Lemon Bars.

I am obsessed with these lemon bars, and last summer was the Summer of the Lemon Bar. I made this recipe so many times that I lost count, yet I never got sick of them. They are delicious, pretty, and incredibly easy to make, so there’s no reason not to make them. The ingredient list is quite short, and you should already have most of the items in your pantry. The crust is a nice, buttery shortbread made of flour, butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt while the lemon topping requires two eggs, sugar, flour, lemon zest, and lemon juice. So simple!

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The first thing to do is make the crust. When you mix all four ingredients, you should have a dough with the consistency of cookie dough. Dump it into a 9×9 pan lined with parchment paper and then squish squish squish so the dough fills the edges of the pan. Don’t worry if it seems quite thin; it puffs up considerably in the oven!

Post-squishing. You can still see my finger marks.
Post-squishing. You can still see my finger marks. Make sure your hands are clean for this part! 

While the crust is baking in the oven for 15-18 minutes, you can get to work on the lemon filling! Like the crust, it’s super easy to make. The consistency will be rather watery.

When you take the crust out of the oven, MAKE SURE TO LET IT COOL! Capitalization is necessary because this cooling period is absolutely necessary. It doesn’t have to be long, but just long enough so the shortbread isn’t piping hot and has time to settle a bit before pouring the filling on. Once I made the mistake of pouring the filling without letting the crust cool, and it was an absolute disaster. An opening opened up in the shortbread and swallowed all of my filling whole like some obscure Floridian sinkhole. Learn from my mistakes, people.

Once you’ve let the crust cool for a bit, you can now pour the filling on. It might overflow a little, but that’s only to spread the lemon goodness.

Into the oven we go!
Into the oven we go!

After another 18 to 20 minutes, during which your kitchen will fill with the most fantastical notes of citrus, it’s time to take the lemon bars out! Let it cool for a while before sprinkling a light layer of powdered sugar over the yellow plane, like a tiny snow/pollen shower over a warm summer day. Or, if you want to be like me, just dump a small mountain of powdered sugar onto your lemon bars. (I couldn’t find the sifter.)

Nothing wrong with two much sugar!
Nothing wrong with a little extra sugar!

Once the lemon bars have completely cooled, you are free to cut it into squares, and then feast! The edges are my favorite: delightfully chewy and buttery. Make sure to tuck some away before presenting them to your friends or family, because they’ll be gone before you know it.

A gorgeous slice of sunshine.
A gorgeous slice of sunshine.

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you guys find yourself recreating summer through these delicious lemon bars. Stay tuned for part two!

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