My grandmother used to make these whenever family was coming over for a holiday, be that Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter.  When it was my Uncle Wim and his family coming over, she’d have to make them twice — he’d eat the whole pan before anybody else had a chance to grab any!  Sometimes we leave off the dusting of powdered sugar on top, but I like to include it; it makes a wonderfully tart treat just a little bit sweeter.

It takes about an hour all told to make these, but you’ll be fairly busy the whole time.  The longer they cool, the firmer and less gushy they’ll be, but it’s really up to you when you decide they’re done cooling and let the starving masses tuck in.  Or, really, it’s up to the starving masses, especially if they’re the kind of devious sneaks who like to creep into the kitchen and steal an early lemon square.  They’re well worth stealing, after all.

There are a couple of 1/16 tsp measures in here, the salt in the pastry and the xanthan gum in the filling.  If you don’t have a 1/16 tsp measure, just eyeball it with half an eighth, or a quarter of a fourth, it should be fine.

Without further delay:

Lemon Squares

Yield:  1 13×9 pan of bar cookies; how many cookies depends on how small you cut them, really.


For pastry:

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (plus more for dusting the finished squares)
  • 2 cups dough mix
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/16 tsp salt

For filling:


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the pastry (powdered sugar, dough mix, xanthan gum, and salt).  Then, with a pastry cutter, cut the softened butter into the dry mixture until it’s more or less combined.  If you’ve never cut pastry before, don’t worry, it’s easy — just push the blades of the pastry cutter through the butter into the dry mixture, rotate the bowl, push the pastry cutter through the butter again, rotate the bowl, and so on.  Every so often make sure to stop and mix it all up and clean out the pastry cutter blades, and keep it up till you’re not making progress anymore — that means you’re done.

3.  Press the pastry into a greased 13x9x2 glass or metal pan.  Spread it out evenly, and use a spatula or your fingers to compress it into a firm surface, like so.  Put in the preheated oven to bake for 20-25 minutes, by itself.

4.  While the pastry’s baking, it’s time to mix up the filling.  (I like to take a minute and rinse out the bowl I made the pastry in, just so there’s fewer dishes to do later.)  Combine the eggs, sugar, dough mix, xanthan gum, lemon juice, and lemon rind, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.  You’ll get done well before the pastry’s ready, so don’t worry about that.

5.  Once the pastry’s done, take it out of the oven (but leave the oven on), and pour the filling over it.  Put the pan back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes.  The surface of the custard will look browned and done a little while before you actually want to take it out — it’ll be runny if you take it out too soon — but on the other hand, you don’t want it to burn, either, so keep an eye after about the 23-minute mark.

6.  Take the finished pan out to cool.  (Now you can turn off the oven.)  Dust the surface of the custard as much as you like with powdered sugar, and cut into bars while still warm.  Bon appetit!