Thursday, October 14, 2010

Babies Call for Lemon Lime Bars, Obviously

These bars are the best dessert I’ve ever made. True story. The mix of lemon and lime was inspired by one of the first food blogs I ever visited, Technicolor Kitchen (the author lives in Brazil and is always doing amazing things with fruit), and adapted to fit my love of whole wheat pastry flour (WWPF) and shortage of citrus juice.  WWPF lends itself more easily to baking than regular whole wheat flour, and, in my humble opinion, its flavor is so much better than white flour. WWPF just has more personality. It’s like the Stephen Colbert of flours. I have yet to substitute whole wheat pastry flour for white flour and get a bad result.  

This batch was for the mom and dad of Mikayla, the newest baby on the Hill (confirmed: she’s gorgeous). Mom and dad seem pretty chill about the whole parenting thing, aaaaaand I love it. Kind of like I love these bars. Illustration: dad Chad always said he’d be back out for Saturday morning bike rides right after baby M was born; the peanut gallery thought he was nuts. I’m pretty sure Chad was back in the saddle before his little girl turned a week old. Mom Kirsten probably won’t be long to follow (but we cut her a little slack considering she DID birth a child).

Lemon lime bars are super easy. And should you have only lemons or only limes that you want to use up, go for it (the base for this recipe is actually straight lemon bars). My number one tip is that if you don’t have a handheld citrus juicer (like the one pictured above), buy one. Now. You will never regret it. I balked at the fact that it cost $12, but I’m telling you, it paid for itself in spades. It juices and strains all in one and it gets every last little drop of juice out of your citrus fruit. Look, you can get yours here for even less! The one limitation is size - sadly, it's too small for navel oranges. But it will handle all your lemon, lime, tangerine and clementine juicing needs like a dream (because everyone has tangerine juicing needs, duh).

So let's all send Mikayla some Xs and Os and enjoy some lemon lime bars.  

Lemon Lime Bars with Whole Wheat Crust
adapted from lemon bar recipe in Baking Illustrated (by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine)

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine melted butter, sugar, vanilla and salt. Add flour and mix until incorporated. Line a 9x11 pan with aluminum foil (for thicker bars, use 8x8 pan and expect longer cooking times). I used cooking spray on the foil, though it probably wasn't necessary - baker's choice. The pan does not need to be fully lined, but the foil should hang over the two long ends of the pan so that the bars can be removed from pan prior to cutting. Press crust into lined pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until light brown.

1 cup sugar
3 tbs. whole wheat pastry flour
3 eggs + 1 yolk
zest and juice of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 lime
pinch salt
powdered sugar for dusting

Mix sugar and flour. Whisk eggs and stir into sugar and flour. Stir in zest, juice and pinch of salt. The original recipe I used called for 2/3 cup total fruit juice. My fruits produced less juice than this and it was fine. If the fruits seem firm at the store, maybe grab an extra one or two lemons/limes to supplement the juice (or if you like a more tart bar). Pour topping onto hot crust and put in the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Filling should be mostly non-jiggly. 

Let bars rest in the pan for 20-30 minutes after baking, then lift out using the foil edges. Let cool fully on a baking rack before cutting (bars will firm up a lot). Dust with powdered sugar. Dusting after cutting creates a bit more of a mess, but it allows you to cover any nicks from cutting.

Makes 15 bars


  1. i am seriously dying for one of these bars! who knew this was so easy...and i love your pictures. very proud to know my gorgeous cousin is in fact good in the kitchen!

  2. please freeze till i get there. i happen to know that these freeze well. love, yer mom

  3. This just in: there is a super-sized juicer for oranges. Perhaps this will answer ALL of your juicing prayers.

  4. Here's my thing: How can I get you to make this for me without having to have a baby?

    I can barter time with my dog if that would help.

  5. Our friend Katie is way cooler! You see she made this delicious dessert and packed up some diapers for us. And with a new baby you have no time to cook and you change about 10 diapers a day. But we really use 15 diapers because our baby is a free spirit that finds it best to do all her business with the diaper half on. Or maybe she just has a good sense of humor, like Colbert.

    You are a great writer.

  6. I want to eat these, oh, now.

  7. made these sunday for mother's day, they were fantastic!! Note to self: Try to have both sides of oven rack on the same notch, next time.

  8. These bars are luscious! I'm a total sucker for all things lemon/lime, you know. :) Actually, I first knew lemons when I was almost 30, since limes are the common citrus of choice here in Brazil (we use limes pretty much as you guys in the Northern Hemisphere use limes - for sweets, in salad dressings, etc.).
    I wish we had WWPF here in Brazil, I've read so much about it! And your bars are truly inspiring.
    A great gift!


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