Its my dad’s birthday tomorrow, and he SERIOUSLY loves lemon squares. But not the kinds that are sweet, they have to be tart. Tart. Tart. Tart. I got my father’s taste buds, because they NEED to be that way in my book. I was looking around for a good recipe, and I noticed that they didn’t have a high enough lemon-to-sugar ratio (or even zest for that matter!) to satisfy my interest, so I mixed it up a bit and adapted my own super-tart/super-delish version!
To make a delightful shortbread crust, combine your flour and powdered sugar in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk together, then add in cubes of very cold butter and cut it in with your pastry cutter.
Until the consistency is crumbly and nicely combined.
If you don’t have a pastry cutter, then I seriously recommend you getting one. They are a wonderful thing in the kitchen. Sure, you can use two knives, a fork, or your food processor, but I think that the cutter works a lot better.
Slowly add in your milk and vanilla extract:
And gently stir around a bit until moistened and there is no powder left and the mixture forms a sticky dough. I actually used my pastry cutter here too, it worked great for this!
Don’t worry if you see little chunks of butter flecked throughout the dough, this helps make it nice and flaky! Transfer to your greased and floured baking dish (or in my case, I used Baker’s Joy baking spray)
You can use your spatula, but if you use your hands sprayed with a little nonstick spray, that works better; there were no attractive pictures of my hand doing this method. Sorry to disappoint you. 🙂 I’m so cheeky!
My favorite part is stabbing it! I’m just kidding. But you do need to dock the shortbread with a fork all around so that there are little tiny holes all over the area of the crust. This will prevent it from bubbling up during baking. Bake for about twenty minutes at 350, or until the edges are golden.
Take pictures of lemons. I mean…zest your lemon! We want a lot of this awesome stuff: around two tablespoons! Also, juice your lemon, we want a little more than 1/3 cup of juice in here. Wonderful, wonderful juice.
Now, crack the eggs into the juice, one at a time, mixing thoroughly in between, then stir in the zest. In a medium bowl (I just used the same bowl as I did for the shortbread, probably because I actually like to handwash dishes. Its fun! Please don’t hurt me.) whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add in the lemon mixture, whisking to combine, and then pour over the still-warm crust. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until edges are a bit golden and the top is not glossy. The center will not be set, don’t worry, as it cools, it will firm up significantly.
When totally cool, cut into squares and liberally dust with powdered sugar. Luscious stuff, that is. Dig in! These are wonderfully bright and tart, you’ll want to make them again and again!
Tart Lemon Squares
Ingredients for Crust
3/4 c. plus 2 T. All-Purpose Flour
1/3 c. Powdered Sugar
1 stick cold Unsalted Butter, cut into cubes
Pinch of Salt
3 T. Milk
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Method for Crust
->Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray a 9″x9″ baking pan with baking spray, or butter and flour the pan.
1. Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.
2. Using a pastry cutter, cut the cubes of butter into the flour mixture until the butter flecks become a bit smaller than peas and combined with the mixture.
3. Combine milk with vanilla extract. Pour in, one T. at a time, to the flour and butter mixture. Using a pastry cutter, stir in the liquid until all liquid is combined. Form dough into a ball.
4. Press dough evenly to the bottom of the pan, dock (poke holes) into the dough with a fork.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Ingredients for Batter
1/3 c. Freshly-Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 T. Lemon Zest
2 Large Eggs
3/4 c. Granulated Sugar
2 T. All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
Powdered sugar (for dusting)
Method for Batter
->For best results, prepare while crust is baking
1. Whisk together baking powder, flour, and granulated sugar in a bowl and set aside.
2. In a measuring cup or separate bowl, whisk in eggs, one at a time, with the lemon juice until thoroughly combined. Mix in lemon zest.
3. Whisk lemon mixture into the flour mixture, stirring until combined. Pour mixture into the still-warm crust and bake in preheated oven for 20-24 minutes, or until top is no longer glossy and sides are lightly golden.
4. Cool completely on a rack. Once cool, cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar. Bars can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 3 days, but eating them chilled is even better!