A few years ago, my husband brought home lemons from a nearby fire station that had a lemon tree growing on the property. The lemons were plentiful and we had many lemony treats that year. One of the goodies I made were these lemon bars. They're called Texas Canyon lemon bars, because this is the name of the station where the lemons came from. The station has since been torn down, but the lemon tree still stands. My husband has taken the kids down every spring to pick lemons, and this year was no exception. We went a little late in the season, so it was picked over quite a bit by fellow lemon lovers that are in the know about this gem in the forest. But, we still came home with a respectable 30 lemons. I have plenty of supplies for lots of yummy lemon treats. :)
This is a big batch of thick lemony goodness. If you don't have a 10x15 pan, or you like thinner lemon bars, just 1/2 the ingredients and bake in a 9x13. The flavor will still be mostly the same - just a little textural difference.
Start with 4 cups of flour in a mixing bowl. Add 1cup of sugar.
1/2 tsp of salt
and (avert your eyes) 2 cups of butter. - This is actually 1/3 cup less because I used 1/3 cup of this impressive 1 lb block of butter to make my Lemon Tart with Rosemary Crust. I said this was a big batch! Hey, if you make a 9x13 you only need 2 sticks of butter. And one serving has only a little over 1 Tbsp in the crust. There - does that make you feel a little better? No? Well, it tastes good. :)
Now you want to incorporate the soft butter into the flour. This takes a little time and muscle. To tell you the truth, when I'm in a hurry, sometimes I just melt the butter and stir it all together. The crust comes out a little tougher but if you are short on time, or want less of a mess, I say that is the way to go. Today I thought I would show you the proper way.
The pastry cutter wasn't working fast enough for me, so I got in there with my hands and squished the butter around until it was all combined.
This is how I check it. - Just take a handful and squeeze. If it holds the shape of your hands your done.
Now just dump the whole mess into a 10x15 baking dish (I spray the sides, just in case the lemon filling/topping sticks, but honestly there is so much butter in the crust you shouldn't need to worry about it.)
Flatten it out evenly with your messy hands. (Do you know how often I scrub my rings? Sheesh!)
When it's all flat and pretty, just pop it into a 350F oven for 20-25 minutes. It will become firm and slightly golden around the edges.
Now it's time to make the filling. Start with some sugar - or in my case go to your sugar bin and realize you need to open a new bag of sugar. - Got to love food storage!
With a new bag in the sugar bin, now add 2 3/4 cups of sugar.
1/3 cup of flour (I always keep a measuring cup in my flour bin, but it's not always the one I need. Today, a 1/4 measure was in there. It can stay in there for another time.
Whisk the flour and sugar, so there are no flour lumps. Make sure they are thoroughly combined and then set this bowl aside.
In a second mixing bowl, add 8 eggs
The zest of 2 medium lemons - about 1 Tbsp.
When you're zesting, you should only take the yellow. The white is bitter.
Now, you get out a passel of lemons and get ready to star juicing. I ended up using 15 lemons to get the 1 1/3 cups I needed.
I like to press/roll each lemon on the counter and then slice them in half. I started with about 7 lemons and then saw how much juice I had. Rolling and slicing each one first makes for quicker juicing.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - juicing by hand burns more calories. (That means you get to eat more later right?)
Strain the juice, to get any stray seeds.
and 2 tsp of vanilla extract.
Whisk again and then pour the egg mixture into the flour/sugar mixture you made earlier.
Whisk everything together thoroughly and then pour it onto the hot crust, just out of the oven, and bake @ 350F for an additional 20-25 minutes. It should be slightly jiggly in the center. - It will firm up as it cools.
This is what it looks like right out of the oven (The white is the set bubbles from whisking. Don't worry, we're going to cover that up.)
Let it snow! Cover the ENTIRE dish with powdered sugar (about 1 Tbsp or so).
Until it looks like this. You want to do this while it's still warm so that some of the powdered sugar melts into the lemon bars. The rest will just be pretty - and tasty - on top.
Chill in the fridge for 4 hours. Cut - carefully, remember they are dense, and serve.
Here's the recipe:
Texas Canyon Lemon Bars
2 cups butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup lemon juice
zest of two medium lemons (about 1 Tbsp)
2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all the crust ingredients together and press into a 10x15 baking dish. (If you're making a 9x13, just half ALL the ingredients. The baking times on the lower end of the range.) Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes, or until firm and slightly golden around the edges.
You'll need two bowls for the filling. In one bowl mix together the sugar and flour. In a second bowl, mix the eggs, salt, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla until well combined. Add the egg mixture to the flour/sugar mixture and whisk until it's thoroughly mixed. When the crust is done, pour the filling over the hot crust and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. (It will be slightly jiggly in the center. It will firm up as it cools.) Cover the entire top with the powdered sugar (dust it on using a sifter). Cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving.