Monday, June 30, 2014

Everything's Coming Up Lemon Bars

Lemon bars divide people into those who think, 'they're fine, whatever, what's the big deal,' and those who think they're everything in the world. I fall into the latter camp. Big time.

It is surprising then, that I've never perfected a lemon bar recipe, have never had much luck making them myself. And most bakery versions are deeply disappointing. So I don't eat lemon bars very often. But I always want to.

This longing of mine filtered into a weird short story I wrote a few years ago, "And the Lemon Bar Stared Back at Me," whose protagonist is seduced, you might say, by an extremely good lemon bar. When it was published by the lovely online magazine Punchnel's last week (you can read it here), I felt inspired to once and for all make a lemon bar that would satisfy me. I started by gathering together recipes from the most popular and beloved food blogs and websites. I bought a big bag of lemons. A very big bag.

And it didn't go well at all. Four batches in and I did NOT have what I was looking for: too floury, too sugary, oily crust, not enough filling. Ugh. My house smelled great, but it was depressing to throw out all those inferior bars.

Fifth time was the charm. I should have started with Cooks Illustrated; in my experience their recipes are not always exciting, but they are almost always sturdy and reliable, and this lemon bar recipe is completely perfect: worthy of adoration; capable of seduction.