I’m constantly surprised at how many people tell me that lemon squares are one of their favorite desserts. Personally I couldn’t agree more, but depending on where I buy them, I often find them to have an odd texture and a sub-par crust. Exactly why homemade is the way to go!
I use my large Cuisinart food processor (worth every penny) for making any type of dough since it’s the most foolproof way to mix it properly. Just make sure you process until the dough comes together into a large mass.
I promise I’m not tooting my own horn, but by making your own you can adjust to your personal preference. In my opinion, over-baking is the death of all desserts and lemon squares are no different. With proper technique and the right amount of time in the oven you can achieve the perfect square with a gooey, tart filling and a soft, buttery crust.
This particular recipe is my favorite not only because I love the end result, but they’re so simple to make. Most lemon curd recipes would require you to slave over a hot stove, but this one takes mere minutes to whip up.
Lemon Curd Squares
Yield: 24 small squares
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
For the crust:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 sticks cold butter, cut into cubes
For the filling:
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 6 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
For the crust:
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9 by 13 inch baking dish.
In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, salt and cinnamon. Pulse briefly until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the dough comes together into a large mass, about 1 minute. There should be no trace of dryness.
Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Bake the crust until pale golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
For the filling:
In a bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, salt and lemon zest. Add the eggs, lemon juice and cream and whisk until just blended. Carefully pour the mixture over the cooled crust.
Bake until the filling is set but still jiggles slightly when the dish is shaken, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to the wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes. Run the tip of a small knife along the inside of the dish to loosen the crust from the sides, then let cool completely.
Cut into 24 small squares and (using a spatula) carefully remove the bars from the dish. Just before serving, sift a dusting of powdered sugar over the bars.
Refine Baking Tips
- As with any type of dough, make sure your butter stays as cold as possible (in other words, work quickly) until it goes into the oven. The chilled butter helps to create a flaky crust.
- For small quantities of juice, I use a simple citrus hand juicer, squeezing directly into a measuring cup. Juice a little over the quantity called for, and then strain it through a fine mesh sieve to remove any seeds or pulp.
- When zesting the lemon, be sure to only swipe once or twice per area to avoid scraping off any of the bitter white pith.
- I highly recommend investing in a small brownie spatula – perfect for removing any type of bars from a pan, but particularly great for something more fragile, like these lemon squares.
If you ever test out any of the recipes featured on the blog, please post to Instagram and tag me because I would love to see your creations!