I LOVE lemons and I LOVE Ina Garten! That being said I was in the kitchen the other day and I had a bottle of Lemi-shine on the counter (if you have hard water spot problems in your dishwasher you should try this stuff!!) and it put me in the mood to make something lemony. I know, nothing like dishwasher additives to put you in the mood to bake, i'm weird like that :). So I remembered that Ina had a very popular recipe for lemon bars that I hadn't tried yet. I don't think i've tried a single recipe of hers that wasn't either fantastic or at the least really, really good. These lemon bars are no exception! The crust is rich, flakey, and buttery without being too much so, and the filling is not too sweet and not too tart and oh so lemony good!! At first I was a little worried about the 3 cups of sugar required in the filling, but hey, her recipes have never failed me in the past so I went with it. I'm glad I did because I think the filling would have been a little too tart if I had cut back any.
A couple of hints when making this are: Make sure your butter is room tempurature. To do this, place it on a plate in the microwave and heat in 5 second increments turning onto a new side each time and checking after each time until its just soft but not starting to melt. To make your eggs room temp quickly, place them in a bowl or measuring cup and get your tap water as hot as it will go. Fill up the cup with the hot tap water so it covers the eggs and let them sit for about 4 mintues and you have room temp eggs without the very long wait!
One very important note to the recipe is the eggs! I read a lot of the reviews on the food network site and some people were having problems with the filling setting. When baking and using extra-large vs. large eggs there are some recipes that you can get away with just substituting one to one but I don't think this is one of those recipes. I would either recommend using the extra large eggs or do what i did and use 7 large eggs (I never have extra large eggs and I didn't want to have to go out and buy them, lol), because the eggs are what make the the filling set.
Ina Garten Food Network 1999
For the crust:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light (about 2-3min) in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill. (I chilled in the freezer for about 5 minutes)
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature. (important or they will be hard to cut!!)
Dust with confectioners sugar.