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Lemon bars: With gluten, and without

August 1, 2011

A freshly prepared batch of gluten-free lemon bars.

Lemon bars are one of life’s many pleasures. They’re suitably tart, sweet and when made well, airy and refreshing. They’re great year-round, but they’re delightful in summertime, when they can be pulled from the fridge, cold. They’re good with coffee, tea or milk.

I’ve endeavored to make many of my favorites gluten-free, as my girlfriend’s mother has Celiac’s. While not every baking recipe can be prepared in this manner, attempting to do so is important, and I think it challenges me as a baker. Plus, I’d really like for her to enjoy the baked treats we so often take for granted.

I make no endorsements here, but I’ve found great success with this brand of gluten-free flour. It’s superior to the coconut blend made by the manufacturer, and hands down, it beats out Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free mixes that are often found in many grocery stores these days. Mama’s brand can be exchanged on a 1-for-1 basis. It’s finer than regular flour, its texture is different. There will be no mistaking it for the genuine article, but it’s good enough, and for the purpose of this lemon bar, it works equally well if not better, in fact.


1 and 1/8 cup of gluten-free or regular flour

1 stick (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, cold (no softening required)

1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar for the crust, another 2/3 for the lemon component

pinch of kosher salt

juice and grating from one lemon

two large eggs

1/4 teaspoon baking powder


Preheat your oven to 335 degrees.

Grab a metal or glass Pyrex square baking pan, the square sort. If it’s larger, that’s alright, the bars will be thinner–all a matter of preference. And they’ll cook faster. Grease the pan with some butter.

Take the stick of butter and cut into the flour. Add in 1/3 cup of confectioner’s sugar and a pinch of salt. I like mixing it with a fork, cutting the butter in as you would for a scone recipe. It’s tedious, but you can pull out the electric mixer for similar results. But when working with cold butter, it’s somehow easier to cut it in manually.

Once blended, press mix into bottom of pan. Bake for 2o minutes, until slightly golden.

Work on lemon mix in the meantime, while the crust is baking. You’ll crack open two eggs, use them in their entirety. Then, grated as much of single lemon as possible, squeeze it of its juice. Add 2/3 cup of confectioner’s sugar. Whisk till smooth and pale yellow.

When crust is done, add baking powder to lemon mix. Blend. Then, pour it into the baking pan, atop the crust. Baking for another 20 minutes, until lemon mix is solid and doesn’t jiggle.

Remove from oven, allow to cool. In a sieve or flour sifter, shake on some confectioner’s sugar for a nice coating. It must be cool, otherwise it will melt in. Then, cut into squares.


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