Tis the season for citrus fruit in California. Everywhere I look on my travels, I see orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit trees bursting with ripening fruit. I don’t have any fruit trees on my property, but my former neighbour does. She has a Meyer lemon tree that is exploding with fruit. She asked me if I would take some since she can’t possible use all the fruit her tree bears. How could I say no? Now I have a large bowl of lemons to use.

When I said lots of lemons, I meant LOTS of lemons!

My first order of business was to make a batch of lemon bars for a holiday party. I particularly like lemon bars because of the fresh, acidic citrus flavour, combined with the shortbread base. I don’t consider this recipe particularly difficult. It’s only the juicing and the zesting that take a bit of time.

Zesting and juicing fresh lemons takes time, but it’s worth it

I tried to do a bit of digging on the history of the lemon bar or square. There is a general consensus that lemon curd was created during the Renaissance and that shortbread followed thereafter. But the combination of shortbread with a layer of lemon curd baked on top did not surface until the early 1960’s when a recipe for the bars appeared in a Chicago newspaper. From the day on, lemon bars grew in popularity.

Combine all the wet ingredients, including the lemon zest

Nowadays you can find them in bakeries, patisseries and served during holidays and special occasions. If you like lemon desserts as much as I do, these will become a staple in your repertoire of desserts.

The acid freshness of the lemon curd cuts the richness of the shortbread crust