Saturday, June 1, 2013

Lemon Squares

My sister is the type of person who will get obsessed with the most random things.  One of her recent obsessions is reading online reviews- for everything.  Not just food recipes, or movies, or things like that, but for every gadget and gizmo you could think of, for restaurants, make up, literally, everything.  While I normally laugh off her silly obsessions and other weird habits, this is one that I don't really mind too much.  Sure, I still think it's a bit ridiculous, but she has become my go-to person whenever I find myself in some sort of shopping dilemma or state of boredom.  I just have to ask her for an opinion, and she can instantly go on and on about whatever it is that I'm asking her, based on reviews that she has read.  Her advice, or I guess, her knowledge of other people's opinions, has come in very handy in recent days.  

For instance, my sister was the one who knew exactly which case I should get to protect my iPad mini (I got a DODOcase, and I can't wait for it to come in the mail!).  She is also the person who suggested that I buy Benefit's High Beam highlighter, a purchase which I have really grown to just love, and am using much more frequently than I thought I ever would.  She is also the one who I usually go to first when I am stumped about what to bake for the blog, or, when I need the perfect recipe suggestion.  She loves reading recipe reviews and combining components from 6 different recipes in order to make the ultimate "fill in the blank." Remember the recipe I posted a few months back for super fluffy buttermilk pancakes?  That was her own invention, based off of I don't even know how many different buttermilk pancake recipes.  My sister's buttermilk pancake recipe is my favorite buttermilk pancake recipe, and I've made it tons of times, with great success each time.  

But we're not talking about pancakes anymore.  Lemon squares are today's primary subject of interest, as shown in the above and below photos.  Like the pancake recipe, these lemon squares are the lovely result of my sister's recipe review reading hobby.  I think she used something like four different recipes to come up with this version, pulling the best components from each recipe and tweaking them enough so that they all worked together.  The result was fantastic.  These lemon squares are actually the best lemon squares I've ever tasted, and those who I shared them with agreed.  The crust is rich, slightly sweet, and has a great buttery flavor.  The filling is my favorite part though.  It has a very tart flavor, as any good lemon square should, yet is sweet enough that the tartness is neither overwhelming nor prevents you from eating it.  These lemon squares have a fresh and bright taste to them that I just loved.  They just make you feel all happy inside!

When I told my sister that I wanted to feature her recipe for lemon squares on the blog, she agreed to it, but on the condition that she had to prepare them herself, and that I could only photograph them at the end, so that I wouldn't "ruin the perfection of the recipe," or something like that.  I simply rolled my eyes at her and agreed, just to avoid any sort of argument.  I have no idea what she meant by that, but I played along.  This was her second time making these lemon squares, and I found it hysterical that she was trying to recreate the exact same scenario from the first time that she made them.  For instance, we have two ovens in my house, and she had to bake them in the same oven that she used the first time, even though it wasn't the oven that we normally bake in, in order to ensure that the lemon squares would come out perfectly.  I may have found her methods a little ridiculous, but in the end, maybe she had a reason to her madness.  I couldn't get enough of her lemon squares, they were just that good!

These lemon squares are very simple to prepare, and are sure to be a hit with whoever is lucky enough to try one.  Just be sure to use cold butter when preparing the crust, and to use freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh lemon zest, none of the bottled lemon juice!  Fresh lemon juice will truly make a difference here, so don't skimp.  Aside from that, these lemon bars can be prepared easily with just a few standard kitchen ingredients. Enjoy!

Lemon Squares
my sister's recipe!


For the Crust

1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, cold, diced
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Filling

4 eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice


Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9x13-inch glass baking dish with vegetable oil, and line with aluminum foil, leaving a 2-inch overhand on either side. 

To prepare the crust, in a food processor, pulse together the butter, flour, both sugars, and salt.  Turn the food processor on and let it mix for 1 minute, just until the dough comes together.  Dump the dough out into the prepared baking dish, and press it evenly into the bottom of the pan, and about 1/2 inch up the sides. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling for the lemon squares.  In a bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and flour.  Once combined, whisk in the lemon zest and juice. 

Remove the crust from the oven, and lower the temperature to 300 degrees F.  Pour the lemon filling over the warm crust, and return to the oven.  

Bake until the lemon filling has set, about 35 minutes.  Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, and then refrigerate for a few hours, just until chilled and the filling is firm.  Cut into squares, dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy!

Makes 20 lemon squares. 


  1. Hi Nina! Me and my friend Silvia just opened a food blog in Italy and we are amazed by your recipes! Your lemon squares look so delicious and yummy!!! :)

  2. Like to now the weigt grams of the butter please in holland I cant by butter in sticks only per 250gr block

    1. Hi Tanja! I did a quick conversion for the weight of the butter, and you need 198.5 grams of unsalted butter. I think you'll be fine if you want to round up to 200 grams! Hope this helps!

  3. Thank you for posting this recipe! I recently attempted this recipe, and found it easy to use. However, I'm not sure if it was a mistake on my behalf but I tried to follow the recipe to a T, and my crust turned out burnt. I found that 350 degrees for 25 was too long. Also, my filling, although using the same proportions, turned out very sour. Like I said, perhaps I made a mistake along the way, but I would recommend for whoever decides to try this lovely recipe, to watch their crusts and adjust the timing or temperature accordingly.

    1. Hi Jessica, thanks for your comment. I'm sorry to hear that the recipe didn't work out as planned for you. I've made this recipe a few times and it's always worked for me, maybe it has something to do with your oven? Everyone's oven is different so maybe that's why. Sorry I couldn't be of any more help!


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