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It’s hard to put into words how much I love these lemon bars, but here’s my best try: they’re extremely easy to make; find the perfect balance between sweet and tart; have the flakiest, butteriest crust; and bake with candied edges (be ready to fight for them).
I could easily eat a whole pan of these in one go (and when I made them recently, I kind of did …). I can’t stop making them and I can’t stop eating them.
How to make Joanna Gaines’ lemon bar
The recipe comes from the cookbook Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines. It’s the first cookbook I’ve ever bought for myself (just for their chocolate chip cookie recipe I found a few years before I started working here on Kitchn).
The preparation is simple: mix the flour, powdered sugar, salt and melted butter with a fork to form a crust. Then bake for about 20 minutes, until the edges are browned. In the meantime, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar and eggs. Pour over the crust and bake for 15 minutes without a lid, then camp over the pan with aluminum foil for another 15 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and let cool completely before cutting (this is probably the most difficult step).
The lemon bars come out with a flaky, buttery crust and a perfectly sticky sweet lemon filling – not too tart and not too sweet. The lemon taste is rather mild. So, if you have people in your life who don’t like lemon, this is a perfect starter recipe. Personally, I like them a little more lemony, so I started adding lemon peel to the lemon filling for a little more flavor.
And now the crust. When the bars bake in the oven, the edges turn dark brown and develop that lovely caramelization. After my first bite, I realized that the crust deserved its own moment. So instead of cutting them into bars, I now separate the center from the edges and then pull out the pieces of crust to have them as my own snack. Or I would if they weren’t stolen from my family as soon as I put them on a plate. They are like candy.
Since I first made these lemon bars, this recipe has become my favorite. I make them for occasions like my friends’ birthday or Mother’s Day, but also just for fun or when I have to bake stress. I did a lot for my family’s beach vacation and they were gone within the first few days.
That’s what my family says
My parents get poetic about these lemon bars – literally in the case of my father. I asked him if he would like to add something to this recipe and he sent me the following poem:
Lemon bars are tart and sweet
They make a great summer treat
Cut into squares, serve chilled
Covered with powdered sugar, they do not need to be filled.
Some like the ends best
Eat them now, don’t wait for autumn.
Mom: “I love every inch of them, but especially the pieces with the surrounding crust. The crispy, partially caramelized crust is the perfect counterpoint to the creamy cake filling. “
Sister: “Really good.”
At Kitchn, our editors develop and publish brand new recipes on the website every week. But at home we also have our own tried and tested dishes that we prepare over and over again – because it’s easy? We love her. Kitchen love letters is a series that shares our favorite recipes over and over again.