Lemon bars recipe (small batch) for two made in a bread loaf pan. This recipe makes 8 small lemon bars.
Please note that I first published this post in 2011, hence the references to when I lived in California. It's time for a small recipe update (I included an extra egg yolk in the filling), and the pictures badly needed to be updated, too! If you're curious, I live in Dallas, Texas now :)
I’m going on 5 years here in northern California, and I’m getting pretty used to the California lifestyle.
I love how every town has a weekly farmer’s market. If you miss market day, there’s always a roadside stand that sells local fruit, vegetables, honey, olives and nuts daily.
I love that when the rest of the country was covered in snow and ice a few weeks ago, we were enjoying a sunny 65° (we still are, by the way—don’t be jealous).
But my favorite thing about California: CITRUS! This is the time of year when the citrus trees are bursting with fruit. Everyone is sharing bags of oranges, clementines, lemons, Meyer lemons, grapefruit and pomelos from their backyards. I felt like the luckiest Texan alive last week when I received a bag of home-grown Meyer lemons!
Lemon Bars Recipe
I made a small batch of lemon bars in my standard 9" bread loaf pan. <--Here's a link to the exact pan I use.
The recipe uses just 1 lemon, or however many lemons it takes to get 3 tablespoons of juice. It's packed with lemon zest.
My lemon bar recipe is slightly different from other lemon bars. Instead of the standard shortbread crust, mine has a bit more sugar, making it taste like a sugar cookie. I use powdered sugar in the crust to give it a subtle sweetness that still lends itself to being a tender yet crisp crust.
One note about this lemon bar recipe: the crust mixture seems overly powdery the first time you make it. You'll think 'this needs water or an egg, or something to hold it together!' But fret not, the crust will hold together after the heat of the oven melts the butter and bakes it.
This lemon bar recipe requires two bakes: first, the crust bakes separately. While you're waiting for the crust to bake, don't skip ahead and make the lemon filling, ok? Acidic lemon juice and eggs aren't the best of friends, and it's a small miracle that curd actually exists in our world. So, let the crust bake on its own; clean the sink, prep for the filling. Only when the crust is golden brown around the edges and fully ready to come out of the oven should you begin making the lemon filling.
The lemon filling just requires some steady but not vigorous whisking. You want to dissolve the flour and baking powder, but if you whisk too much, you'll make air bubbles in the filling. Air bubbles are okay--we'll cover them with powdered sugar anyway, but it's best to try to limit them.
Substitute for Meyer Lemon juice:
In this case, I use Meyer lemons to make this lemon bars recipe, but regular lemons are completely fine here! If you want to approximate the Meyer lemon flavor, use 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed orange juice. The floral notes from the orange mimic the unique fragrance of the Meyer lemon.
I'm a true lemon lover, and have so many lemon desserts on this site to share with you: Meyer Lemon Scones, Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake, and Lemon Cake for Two are my favorite recipes here on the site.
Also, if lemon curd is your jam like it is mine, then you've got to try my Microwave Lemon Curd recipe!
So, if you're lucky enough to have Meyer lemons, use them here for this lemon bars recipe, but either way, the recipe will be perfect!
One final note: this recipe uses one whole egg plus one egg yolk. This means that you'll have a leftover egg white. Click here to check out my recipes that use egg whites.
FOR THE SHORTBREAD CRUST:
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¾ cup flour
- pinch of salt
FOR THE LEMON CURD:
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon packed lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk, white reserved for another use
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon flour
- powdered sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350°. The best pan for these bars is a glass bread loaf pan measuring 9” x 5” x 3”. If you only have a metal loaf pan, line the pan very well with parchment paper. You do not want the acidic lemon curd to touch the sides of the metal pan.
- First, make the shortbread crust: In a medium bowl, add all crust ingredients. Use your fingers or a pastry blender to rub the butter into the flour, sugar and salt. You should have a coarse meal. Press this mixture into the bottom of the loaf pan firmly. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned and the top is not wet to the touch.
- Once you remove the pan from the oven, you may then start making your filling. (Do not make the filling ahead of time and let it sit---eggs and lemon juice aren't the best of friends). In a small bowl, beat with a hand-held electric mixer the granulated sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, whole egg and egg yolk. Beat this mixture very well until it becomes frothy--about 1 minute.
- Beat in the baking powder and flour until no lumps remain. Pour this mixture over the crust that has been cooling. Return the pan to the oven for another 20-23 minutes, or until the filling is set.
- Immediately remove the bars from the loaf pan and allow to cool before dusting with powdered sugar and cutting into bars.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 269Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 92mgSodium: 53mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 0gSugar: 31gProtein: 3g