When Life Hands you Lemons…Make Lemon Bars!

I love lemons.

This factoid is no secret to close friends, relatives and acquaintances.

Lemons make me smile. How can they not? They scream summer, which is my favorite season.

So naturally, I had to make lemons bars.

I’ve made them before, but these lemons bars might be the best I’ve made yet.

The tangier the better, and the lemon filling (or curd) was rich, sweet and tangy.

I can’t receive all the credit.

No, no, no….

That should go to Ina Garten from Food Network’s “The Barefoot Contessa.”

I think I’m in love with this woman.

She has a beautiful house in the Hamptons, a KitchenAid, a husband who only comes home on the weekends, and a pantry full of “good bread,”  “good olive oil” and “good chocolate” among other “good things.”

In other words, I want to be like her when I grow up.

But until then, I’ll just settle for her lemon bars.

Lemon Bars

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

Makes about 15 squares

Shortbread Crust

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup  sugar

2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon  salt

Filling

6 large eggs at room temperature

3 cups  sugar

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until incorporated with an electric mixer. Next, gradually add in the flour, along with the salt, and mix gently  until the dough forms. The dough will be slightly sticky. With floured hands, place the dough into a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and spread out with hands, making sure the pan is covered evenly with the dough, building up to a 1/2 inch border on all sides. Chill for 30 minutes.  Then bake for 15-20 minutes until the crust is lightly browned.

For the filling, whisk together eggs, lemon juice, sugar, and zest. Gently add in the flour, and whisk until incorporated. Pour over the crust, and bake for 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and ENJOY!

Lemon Yogurt Cake

This is the first recipe I have made using my Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, which is kind of sad being that this blog is the show’s namesake.

This recipe, which kudos to me, turned out AMAZING, combined my two favorite foods/ingredients – lemon and yogurt. Any one who knows me, knows I love lemon – lemon bars, lemonade, lemon heads, lemon chicken- if it has lemon in it, I’m all in. My obsession with lemon started in high school when I made a lemon bar recipe. I devoured those in a matter of days.  It was love at first bite.

Although this cake is made in a loaf tin, don’t mistake this for bread.  This cake is incredibly moist, decadent, sweet and tart. The vanilla extract in the batter pairs perfectly with the lemon, with the yogurt providing the cake with an extra bit of tang.

But it was the lemon sugar syrup that put this cake on a whole different level. I combined equal parts of sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and heated the mixture until the sugar dissolved. Once the cake was out of the oven, I poked holes in it with a toothpick and poured the syrup over.

Holy deliciousness.

Excuse me while I wipe off the drool on my chin.

The baking process almost went off without a hitch, almost. C’mon, what did you expect?

My only issue came from grating the lemon. Note to self: buy a microplane (Google it), it will save you time and pain in trying to grate a tiny lemon on a huge grater. More lemon remained on the grater than in the batter. In order to make up for my lost lemon zest, I added a teaspoon of  lemon juice to the batter.  Crisis adverted.

I think the Barefoot Contessa would be proud.

Next mission? Master her chocolate cake recipe.

Things might just get messy.

Lemon sugar syrup

 

Lemon-Yogurt Cake

From the book, Barefoot Contessa at Home

Makes one loaf

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt (I used two 6oz cups of low-fat vanilla yogurt)

3 eggs

2 tsp. grated lemon zest (2 lemons) – The death of me!

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (Don’t even think of using imitation)

1/2 cup vegetable oil (Used only 1/4 cup- The Barefoot Contessa will kill you.)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper (Puh-leeze, just oil the thing and dust with flour).

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick poked in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

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