1tablespoonfirmly packed finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 large lemons)
1 ½cups(340 g) organic granulated cane sugar (or 1 ¼ cups / 275 g for extra tangy bars)
1/8teaspoonfine sea salt
2large egg yolks
1cup(235 ml) strained lemon juice (from about 6 large lemons)
Optional garnishes: powdered sugar, lemon wheels, and/or heavy cream and crème fraiche whipped to firm peaks
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper on all sides.
In the bowl of a food processor (or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) combine the almond, sweet rice, oat, and tapioca flours with the sugar and salt. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and drizzle with the vanilla extract. Process until the butter is incorporated and the dough forms large clumps, 15 - 30 seconds in a food processor or 3-5 minutes in a stand mixer on medium speed.
Dump the dough into the prepared baking pan and press evenly into the bottom.
Bake the crust until golden all over, 25-30 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and, while it’s still hot, press it down firmly all over with the back of a spoon. This will help it hold together when cool.
Lower the oven temperature to 325ºF.
Place the butter and lemon zest in a heatproof bowl. Place a mesh strainer over the bowl and set aside.
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the sugar, salt, eggs, and egg yolks to combine. Gradually whisk in the lemon juice.
Place the pot over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof silicone spatula, until the mixture thickens slightly and reaches 160-165ºF on an instant-read thermometer, 5–10 minutes. As you stir, be sure to scrape the entire bottom and corners of the pan, so that the mixture heats as evenly as possible. It will start out thick and cloudy from the undissolved sugar, then will turn thin and translucent, and finally begin to thicken and turn cloudy again as the eggs cook. Lower the heat to very low as it gets closer to being done. If the mixture starts to curdle or bubble, immediately remove it from the heat and proceed to the next step.
Immediately pour the curd through the strainer and into the bowl of butter to stop the cooking. Whisk to incorporate the butter and lemon zest, making sure there are no clumps of lemon zest.
Pour the cooked curd over the baked and pressed down crust.
Bake the bars at 325ºF (don’t forget to lower the oven temp!) until the sides are barely puffed and the center wobbles like firm Jell-O when you give it a gentle shake, 15–20 minutes. It should not be wet or watery looking (underbaked), nor should it be puffed in the center or cracking (overbaked). Remove the bars from the oven and let cool to room temperature for 30 – 60 minutes, then chill until firm, 2–3 hours or overnight.
When the bars are cold, grasp the parchment and lift the bars from the pan and onto a cutting board. Gently peel away the sides of the parchment. Trim away the outer edges of the bars, then use a large, sharp chef’s knife to cut the bar into 16 squares. For the cleanest cuts, dip the knife in very hot water and wipe the blade clean between cuts.
Just before serving, dust the lemon bars with a bit of powdered sugar or garnish with lemon wheels and/or whipped crème fraîche if you like.
The bars keep well, refrigerated, for up to 3 days, though the crust is the crispest within the first 1–2 days.
Gluten-Free Lemon Tart:Spray a 9-inch loose bottom tart pan lightly with cooking oil and place on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips. Press half of the dough into the sides of the pan, then press the remaining dough into the bottom forming square corners. Bake and press down the crust as instructed and proceed with the recipe. When ready to serve, release the sides of the pan, cut into slices, and serve. Make-Ahead:These lemon bars are best within two days of baking when the crust is crisp. They keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days. I don't recommend freezing the bars once baked since it might make the curd grainy or watery. However, you can make the crust ahead and freeze it – baked or unbaked – until you're ready for bars. You can prepare the lemon zest and juice a day or two ahead and refrigerate them until you're ready to bake. You can also cook the curd ahead of time, chill it for up to 3 days, and soften it a bain marie before pouring it into the baked crust and proceeding with the recipe.