One of the best things about living in California, that is often taken for granted, is that fruits like strawberries and lemons are always in season. Taking advantage of this year-round availability is my recipe for strawberry lemon bars, my personal twist on the classic.
1 cup flour
¼ powdered sugar
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp powdered sugar
¼ cup flour
1 Tbsp lemon zest
⅔ cup lemon juice (around 4-6 lemons)
½ cup sugar
1 ½ Tbsp powdered sugar
2 Tbsp flour
2-5 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp strawberry pulp
3-5 drops red food coloring (optional)
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. To start your crust, whisk flour and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small chunks and incorporate it into the flour mixture using forks or your hands. Once the crust dough sticks together in a cohesive ball, press it into an ungreased 8” x 8” square pan and freeze for five minutes. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
While the crust is baking, make the lemon and strawberry layers. In a large mixing bowl, add four whole eggs and one yolk. Add in the sugars and flour and whisk together. Rinse your lemons and zest one or two of them into the mixture, then juice them until you have ⅔ cup juice. Make sure there are no seeds before whisking the juice into your egg mixture.
Repeat the same steps for the strawberry layer in a separate bowl, this time with two whole eggs and the juice of one lemon. Rinse, de-stem, crush and strain around 10 strawberries. It’s best to do this by weight for a more precise measurement (I shoot for 80 grams of strawberry juice in the final product). If 10 isn’t enough, repeat the process with more strawberries. I use a garlic press to crush my strawberries, but you could just as easily use a juicer or a blender. Mix the strawberry juice into the egg mixture and add 3-5 drops of red food dye if desired for a deeper red color.
Remove your crust from the oven and pour the lemon mixture on top, then gently pour the strawberry mixture into that as well. The strawberry “layer” will blend in a little with the lemon, but only enough to create a swirl pattern reminiscent of a Big Stick popsicle. Turn the heat down on your oven to 325 degrees and bake the dish for 30-45 minutes until it no longer jiggles when shaken and is set.
Enjoy! While this recipe is a labor of love when it comes to the strawberry processing, it’s very worth it.