Spring Fair Lemon Bars

When Amanda came home from college this Spring, I made these Lemon Bars.  As she bit into one, she said, “This reminds me of Spring Fair!”

I made Lemon Bars for the Spring Fair school fundraiser each May when Amanda and Zach went to Belle Sherman Elementary School.  Even after both kids had moved on to middle school, I got requests from the PTA to continue baking lemon bars for Belle Sherman’s Fair.  With both lemon juice and lemon zest in the filling, they have a very bright, tart lemon flavor.  The buttery shortbread crust is also delicious.  These lemon bars would be a popular dessert for any bake sale, and are also a nice treat at home.

Spring Fair Lemon Bars

First make the shortbread base, then prepare the lemon filling while the shortbread is baking.

Shortbread base:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup (two sticks) salted butter, cut into small pieces

Lemon Filling:
4 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
4-5 lemons (preferably organic, since you will be using the rind)
¼ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder

Confectioners’ sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350°.  For the shortbread base, combine flour, confectioners’ sugar and butter together using a pastry blender, until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.  Press this crumbly dough into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch ungreased baking pan.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until light golden brown.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325°.

While the shortbread cookie base is baking, prepare the lemon filling.  In a medium bowl, beat 4 eggs well.  Finely grate the rind of 4 lemons and add to the eggs.  You can use fine holes of a box grater for this, but a microplane grater is much more convenient if you have one.  Avoid getting the white pith of the lemon—you want just the yellow zest.  Squeeze the juice from the lemons and measure out ½ cup ( 4 lemons are usually enough for this).  Add the lemon juice, sugar, salt, flour and baking powder to the eggs and lemon rind and mix until thoroughly combined.  Pour the lemon mixture evenly over the baked cookie base and return the pan to the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the lemon mixture is set and golden.

When done baking, let the pan cool completely on a wire rack.  Sift confectioners’ sugar over the top just before serving.  I usually cut 24 lemon bars from one 9 x 13 inch pan. The lemon bars will keep for a couple of days at room temperature, but are best on the same day.

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