Lemon Bars have always been a summer staple whenever citrus is plentiful in our house (or during any season, really). But this week, they couldn’t wait for the next grocery run. Something gluten free, summer-y, and delicious was needed stat, and as the house baker I needed to come up with a dessert. So, naturally, I got on my bike and rode all the way to our nearest produce stand, and then carried two dozen oranges, limes, and lemons on my back until I was home again.
Lemon Bars, although tasty as they were originally designed, don’t have to only be made with lemons. I like to make them with a combination of lemons and limes, and sometimes just purely with the latter. Recently I made a variation on my classic recipe with using just limes, and the bars were received very well.
I’ve realized after making these Lime Bars that the lime brings a less intense citrus punch; one that is both sweeter and more floral. This may sound like they’re disappointing on the flavor level, but that’s far from the truth. Lemon Bars can sometimes be too tart. Lime adds a little bit of relief to that.
The reason I love these treats is that you can do whatever you want with them. Use 2/3 lemon and 1/3 lime, equal amounts of both, just lemon, just lime, or even lime juice and lemon zest. The combinations are endless, and the choice is yours.
Please keep in mind that the amount of lemons/limes it takes for me to get 2 cups of juice and 4 tablespoons of zest may be different from the amount it takes for you. Depending on the season, these fruits can yield varying amounts of juice. I always air on the side of too many, just because I’d rather have plenty than not enough. One too many times have I had to go to the store mid-baking because I’m 3 lemons short. On some days I only need 3-4 lemons, and on others I need close to 8.
Why gluten free, you might be wondering? My father found out recently that he has Celiac disease, and I didn’t want to exclude him from the baked goods he so often enjoyed from me. If you would rather use all purpose flour, or any of the other variations, be my guest. I’ve made these bars with plenty different types. My preferred brand and type of flour is Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour. I also love their Organic Coconut Flour. Click either one of these if you’re interested!
Ivy B. Lake
For this recipe you will need a 9″x13″ pan, a zester/grater, a wooden board or counter top, 2 large bowls, 1 small-medium bowl, an electric mixer or whisk (and a strong arm), a cutting board, a hand-held citrus juicer or citrus reamer, a spatula, and a flour sifter or sieve.
Ingredients for the crust:
- 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature, not too soft (8 oz… otherwise known as 2 sticks)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt (sea salt is my preference, but any salt works!)
- 2 cups gluten free baking flour (or any flour you like) (+ additional flour for covering your surface)
- 2 tbsp. lemon or lime zest
Ingredients for the filling:
- 6 large eggs (room temperature)
- 3 1/8 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp. grated lemon or lime zest (average 5 lemons for an all lemon zest variation, average 6 limes for an all lime zest variation, but you can also use a bit of each)
- 1 cup FRESHLY squeezed lemon or lime juice (average 6-7 lemons for all lemon juice variation, average 9 limes for all lime juice variation, but you can use as much of either as you’d like!)
- 1 cup well sifted gluten free baking flour (or all purpose)
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter your pan a little bit, making sure to get about a 1/2 inch of the sides (no more is really needed). Set your pan aside and prep by having your crust ingredients ready, while also letting your 6 eggs come to room temperature elsewhere in the kitchen. If you want to be really prepared, you can pre-zest and juice your fruit, but this isn’t vital.
In a large bowl, cream your butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy.
In a small-medium bowl, quickly whisk your salt and flour together. Slowly add this to the butter/sugar mix until just combined.
Using a cutting board and zester/grater, zest your lemons or limes (or both) until you have 2 tablespoons of zest. You can stop there, or continue so that you have enough zest for the filling too (if you do this, simply set it aside for later). Add the 2 tbsp. of zest to the dough in the large bowl.
Using an electric mixer, make sure that the crust ingredients are completely combined into the dough by beating it on medium for 30 seconds. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and form the dough into a ball/mass in the center of the bowl.
Place the large bowl with the dough into the refrigerator for about 5 minutes to chill. While you’re waiting on the dough, you can juice your citrus or set up your work space for the next step (which is going to require your wood board or counter top. Flour the surface and make sure you’ll have flour for your hands).
Remove your dough from the refrigerator after 5-10 minutes and flour your hands before removing the dough from the bowl and placing it on your floured surface. Knead it and form it into a ball, sprinkling flour over it as you go. It may be sticky, depending on what flour you used to make it and how soft your butter was (this is fine!). Once the dough is in a ball, flatten it slightly between your hands. Place this into your pre-buttered pan and press it down, spreading it until it reaches all sides of the pan. It should build up to be a 1/2 inch edge on all sides.
Chill your dough for another 10 minutes and clear the wood board/counter top.
Once the dough is finished chilling, bake it in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned. (During the baking process you may notice it puff up slightly. This is okay). Take out the crust and let it cool on a wire rack. Remember to leave the oven on.
For the filling, whisk the eggs, sugar, lemon or lime juice and zest in a large bowl. Sift in the flour. Whisk together until pale yellow-green.
Once the crust has cooled, pour the filling into the center and allow it to fill the pan. It will likely cover the edges of your crust. Bake this for 35-40 minutes. Before you take the pan out of the oven, shake it from side to side to make sure the filling is set.
Once it’s finished baking, remove your pan and let the bars cool. Cut into triangles, dust with some sugar, and serve your tart treat!
Leave comments below if you have any questions or suggestions!