The classic lemon bars are elevated to a scrumptious new level with fresh strawberries swimming atop the lemon filling. The sweet but tart taste and added texture of the cooked strawberries enhance the citrusy layer of goodness. All of this rests on a light and buttery crust that serves as the base for a delicious summer dessert.
Prep Time:30 minutes
Cook Time:60 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 30 minutes
Yield:24 2-inch bars 1x
2 pounds fresh Strawberries
1/2 cup granulated Sugar
3 tablespoons Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 cup chilled butter
2 2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon zested lemon peel
3/4 cup lemon juice
8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
powdered sugar for dusting
Simmering the Strawberries
Slice the 2 pounds of strawberries fairly thick and place in a medium size pan. Add 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Heat over medium heat until hot and turn down to low. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and drain the strawberries in a metal strainer for about 10 minutes.
For additional drainage, lay the strawberry slices out on paper towels. Let sit until ready to add atop the lemon filling.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line a 9×13 inch cake pan with parchment paper. Cut a large piece of parchment paper that extends about three inches on each side of the cake pan. With the paper sitting on the pan, cut into each corner of the paper, up to where the pan starts. Press the paper into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Watch this youtube video.
Add 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 2 sticks of chilled butter to the food processor and pulse 8-10 times until it becomes like coarse meal with buttery specks running through.
Pat the mixture into the parchment paper lined pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Parbake the crust for 20 minutes until golden brown and soft to the touch.
The Lemon Filling
Turn the oven down to 325°F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the 8 eggs, 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon peel, and 3/4 cup lemon juice. Stir together the 8 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt and add to the egg mixture. Blend just until all is moistened. Pour over warm crust.
Gently add the individual strawberry slices to the top of the lemon filling.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the lemon filling is set, lightly golden with very little jiggle to it.
Let the bars cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Using the parchment paper that is hanging over the sides, gently loosen the bars and pull them out of the pan. Set them on a metal baking rack to finish cooling. Let the bars cool completely before cutting.
Sprinkle powdered sugar generously over the bars. Store the strawberry lemon bars in the refrigerator up to 4 days or in the freezer (without powdered sugar) up to 1 month.
Slice the strawberries fairly thick so they don’t turn to mush when cooked. Simmer them for only five minutes to draw out some of the juice but not too long in order to retain their shape.
Let the strawberries drain over a strainer for a good 10-15 minutes while the crust is sitting in the refrigerator. To consider removing more moisture, lay the cooked strawberries individually out on several paper towels. It’s definitely an extra step, but worth it to prevent too much liquid in the lemon bars.
If you would rather not use the processor for the crust, throw everything together in a medium-size bowl. Use a metal pastry blender and cut the butter into the flour and powdered sugar until it has a coarse consistency.
Using chilled butter in the crust and sitting it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking makes for a more tender crust.
Baking the crust ahead of pouring on the lemon filling ensures you don’t end up with a soggy crust.
While the crust is baking in the oven, prepare the lemon filling. Don’t wait until the last minute, because the crust needs to still be warm when you top it with the filling.
When mixing the eggs, lemon juice, sugar and lemon zest, mix only until combined. You don’t want to add too much air to the filling.
Use a really sharp knife when cutting the bars. And in between each cut, run hot water over the knife and wiped it clean. This seemed to help slice through them better.
If you want to freeze, cut them into individual bars but don’t sprinkle with powdered sugar. Place them on a large cookie sheet with about 1-2 inches between each bar. Place them in the freezer until frozen. Transfer to freezer ziplock bags. You may need to gently dab the tops with paper towels to remove the extra moisture once they’re thawed. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. They will last in the freezer for one month.