A Real Man’s Lemon Bar

Lemon Bar

These are not your grandmother’s lemon bars…

I sometimes get that certain itch that needs scratching. A persistent yet familiar urge. I know when I get it that a lady will not be able to help me out with it.

What about Martha you say? Surely she has what it takes?  Nope. Martha is too traditional and surprisingly delicate given her unfortunate incarceration.

Rachael? Oh god no! She stresses me out just by looking at her and, er…I’d really like the whole experience to last longer than 30 minutes.

Giada? Hmmm? Yes, while its true Giada can be counted on to add that certain something extra, she canalso be a bit obvious sometimes.  No. Sorry Giada, you can’t help me out this time.

And I have been very public regarding my open relationship with The Ina and yet depite her permissiveness she isn’t working for me here.   I confessed not long ago to the summer-long affair I had years ago with the lusty and quite capable Nigela. (I still get warm and tingly just thinking about her…)

Do I have to say it?  When it comes to satisfying one of these urges what I really need is a guy.

Lemon Bar

This time it took a man like David Lebovitz  to show me what it was that I was looking for: A real man’s lemon bar.

I wasn’t looking for tea at Neiman Marcus with my grandmother at for god’s sake!  No delicate, feminine lemon bar was going to cut it with me at such a moment.  Nigela, bless her heart, calls for only 4 tablespoons of lemon juice and no zest in her whole recipe! That’s a juice bar, not a lemon bar. Not a man’s lemon bar!

David Lebovitz, with whom I have been having a mad on-again on-again culinary affair with ever since we had that chance encounter over his ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop, took me in to his sweet blog one evening and showed me, as only a man can, that for a real lemon bar you had to use one whole lemon, peel, pith, and all.

See what I’m telling you?

It takes a guy to know something like that. A guy knows what a guy likes and this guy (meaning me) just wanted a real kick-ass lemon bar. A lemon bar that didn’t mess around or play games. A lemon bar that wouldn’t lead me on only to not put out when things started to get cozy. David Lebovits saw me cruising for lemony satisfaction that evening and boy did he know how to please!

We frolicked together all weekend tinkering with one not-so-kinky variant after another but in the end I have to give it to David, his specifications as written was where perfection lay. I made one batch with a Meyer Lemon and cut down the sugar to 3/4 cup but  it was a bit cloying and lacked the pithy secondary bitterness which nicely countered the bar’s lemony rush.

I found that organic Eureka lemon provided just the right lemon/pith balance. For a second batch while heating the butter I let its solids burn and used it the crust. Just amazing. (Burnt butter is my new secret ingredient in so many cookies and muffins these days!)  These bars are so damn lemony that the nuttiness of burnt butter still won’t overpower the lemon topping. Somewhere around my 5th batch I included a bit of almond flour in the crust. Sublime.

The truth about David is that no matter what your predilections are he has something with which to please you. He has been holding me rapt for years exuding his unique charms with his blog and in his books — I strongly recommend you go to his place and seek him out. He recently rocked my ice cream world last summer and recently I finished his romp through Paris in “The Sweet Life in Paris” one of my favorite Christmas gifts.

Expect to see more of him here. Soon. I’m done keeping him to myself. I think we’re ready to be more public with our culinary affair. Don’t tell grandma.

Lemon Bar

A Real Man’s Lemon Bars

Lemon Bar Lemon Bar
A Real Man’s Lemon Bar

A Real Man’s Lemon Bar

(aka “Whole Lemon Bars” as adapted from David Lebovitz)

This is what you will need:

    For the Crust:
  • 1 cup flour (or 3/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup almond flour)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 8 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the Lemon Topping:
  • 1 lemon, organic since you are going to use the whole damn thing.
  • 1 cup sugar (or less if you use a Meyer Lemon.)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

This is how you make it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line the inside of an 8x8x2 square pan with foil, flat dull side facing in. Smooth out as best as possible.
  2. To make the crust, mix the flour, sugar, salt , melted butter, and vanilla with a wooden spoon in a medium bowl until well blended and smooth. If batter doesn’t get smooth it should when lightly pressed in your fingers. Smooth out the batter/crust into the bottom of the pan and use your hands to get it as level as possible. Bake the crust for about 25 minutes or until it is a nice golden brown.
  3. To make the topping slice the lemon in half and remove any seeds. Slice the lemon into smaller pieces and put them in a food processor fitted with a sharp blade. Pulse the blade a few times and then add the sugar and lemon juice and process until smooth and the lemon is completly broken up. Add the eggs, corn starch, teaspoon of salt and melted butter. Process until smooth. Don’t worry about a few tiny bits of lemon. I left quite a few.
  4. Take the crust out of the oven and adjust the oven to to 300ºF. Pour the filling over the crust and put on the center rack of the oven to bake for 25 minutes or just until the filling just sets. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Once cool, carefully lift out the bars grasping the foil. Cut the bars into 16 squares with a sharp chef’s knife.
  5. Sift powdered sugar over the top just before serving as these manly lemon bars are so comfortable with their masculinity they are secure enough to take it. Call your grandma. She misses you.


About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. As a fellow fan of David Lebovitz I’m deeply enticed to try this lemon bar. Fabulous post btw. I enjoyed the flow and construction of your story.

  2. These were phenomenal, Trevor; thank you so much for sharing. The robust lemon flavor was such a nice contrast to the standard, ambiguously tart taste of so many other lemon bars. Only now, however, did I realize why I loved the crust so much. The almond flour was a delicious and unique addition. Props.

  3. These lemon bars are fantastic

  4. I am so glad you found a man to fulfill your needs! You really can’t pussyfoot around when it comes to things like this. Love that top photo, by the way. Now I will make you jealous: I actually scored a quote from Lebovits for an article I did on macarons. He answered via email, but still … Tingles!

  5. I don’t believe in a guy or girl bar. I think this lemon bar is perfect for any gender! Also, I’ve seen recipes from females that call for a whole lemon, including the pith, in even lemonade. So, definitely not a gender thing – just a preference thing. Thanks for sharing this recipe 🙂

  6. I enjoyed your blog so much I’ve awarded you a Stylish Blogger Award. You can find out the details of this on my blog and play along as much as you like. Congratulations.

  7. Congrats on your Stylish Blogger Award! And, the bars definitely look tasty! Yeah, Rachel Ray irritates me.

  8. I agree. I’ve done tarts using whole lemons and a cake using whole clementines – definitely got the “zing”! Plus, you don’t have to zest or any of that feminine stuff…. just toss the damned thing in the food processor. DL is king (of ice cream) for me – and will definitely have to try these. You’ve captured the essence of them – so masculine. They could be served to the WWF.

  9. Anonymous says:

    A bar so butch, I’m making it part of my ensemble for this year’s Black Party.


  10. Love it!! You DO deserve a Blog Award! I look forward to your blogs. I just love your humor. I’ve had a Vita-Mix for many years and have used whole fruits/veggies with skin and all in recipes for years. it’s so healthy! Glad to see you do too.
    Wish I could call my Mémère, she was so much fun! But I have my memories. Five houses are now standing where her veggie garden use to be. Her pantry was stocked with what she would put up. I’ve long lost her Piccalilli ( spelling??) recipe, it was the best!
    She’d love you Trevor.

  11. I can see there’s some lemon love going on here! These bars do look exquisite. 🙂 Loved your post and love those bars. “Manly, yes…but I like it too.” (or am I dating myself with that old Irish Spring commercial?) 🙂

  12. Those lemon bars look really good!

  13. My only problem with these bars was that you didn’t bring enough. : ) The bitterness wasn’t at all overpowering and was a nice surprise when I was expecting the no tang, overly sweet standard. Thank you for sharing; these will definitely be my go-to citrus bar from now on.

  14. I like your blog. I found it through your comment on David Lebovitz’s blog…I’ve made a lot of his recipes lately (Ginger cake, polenta cake with rosemary, chocolate pave cake) feel free to check em out and we can compare notes!

  15. I love all David Lebovitz’s sweets. I could et the entire tray right now :-] They look perfect!

  16. Anonymous says:

    these sound wonderful, and I really wanted to love them. I followed the recipe exactly… and they are so bitter they are inedible. 🙁