Brown Butter Lemon Bars

Brown Butter Lemon Bars | Butter Baking
All you Americans out there, especially all those who live in San Francisco, have you been to Tartine?

I have been to SF. And the most heartbreaking thing for me is that (as it was pre my “all I want to do is bake” days) I didn’t go to Tartine.

I went to some fantastic places like Nopa and Dottie Blue’s, but I was yet to hear about Tartine at that point. It just means I am going to have to go back  to SF and visit, because I have heard amazing things about the bakery!

Brown Butter Lemon Bars | Butter Baking

I first heard about Tartine maybe a year and a half ago, when I read about their morning buns and gave the recipe a try. They were fantastic (I will have to re-make them and post about them soon!) and I immediately ran out and bought the Tartine book.

I was so excited when it came that I marked all the things I wanted to make from it and baked a couple of things straight away and then sort of… forgot about it. Does anyone else do that too? I get so distracted by all the recipes I want to try from other blogs and magazines that I neglect the beautiful baking books I have lined up on my bookshelf.

Brown Butter Lemon Bars | Butter BakingAnyway, we have a a bread class at culinary school, and our chef loves his sourdough and did a course in SF. I asked him if he went to Tartine and we talked about it. He loved it and told me that if I have their book, I have to try the recipe for lemon bars on brown butter shortbread.

And he was right, they were fantastic. I loved them. The girlfriends who they were gifted to loved them. My mum, who hates lemon and hates lemon bars, loved them. It went like this:
Mum: “What are those things in the kitchen?”
Me: “Lemon bars.”
Mum: “Am I allowed to try them?”
Me: “Of course.”
Mum: “Good. Because I already ate three.”

Brown Butter Lemon Bars | Butter BakingThe brown butter shortbread uses a strange pastry-making method but the results are great. The shortbread is golden brown and crisp and flaky and stays that way for days. The filling is thick and sticky, almost creamy too, and has a lovely balance between being tart and sweet.

If you’re a lemon bar lover (and even if you’re not!) you should totally try these.

And if you’ve been to (or frequent) Tartine, please tell me about your experience! I’d love to know your thoughts.

Brown Butter Lemon Bars | Butter Baking

  • ½ cup icing sugar (55g, 2 oz)
  • 1½ cups plain flour (215g, 7½ oz)
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened (170g, 6 oz)
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup plain flour (70g, 2½ oz)
  • 2¼ cups sugar (455g, 1 pound)
  • 1 cup lemon juice (250ml, 8 oz, about 8-10 lemons)
  • zest from 1 lemon, grated
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • pinch of salt
  • icing sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) and line a 9 x 13 inch pan with baking paper.
  2. To make the crust, sift the icing sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the flour and salt. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on a low speed to combine.
  3. Add the butter and mix on a low speed just until a dough forms.
  4. Put the dough in the pan and press it evenly into the base and about ½ an inch up the sides. This will take a little time and is annoying, but keep at it.
  5. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the crust about 25 - 35 minutes, until it evenly colours and is a deep golden brown. I had to uncover mine for the last 5 minutes.
  6. While the crust is baking, make the filling. Combine the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix to dissolve the sugar.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and the egg yolk with salt.
  8. Add the eggs into the lemon and sugar mixture and whisk until well combined.
  9. Once the crust is golden, pull the oven rack out of the oven slightly and pour the filling into the crust while it is still in the oven.
  10. Reduce the oven temperature to 150 C (300 F) and bake for 30 - 40 minutes, until the center is just set.
  11. Allow the bars to cool completely, then chill well in the fridge before cutting.
  12. Dust with icing sugar to serve. Makes 20 bars.

Adapted from Tartine by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson.


38 Thoughts on “Brown Butter Lemon Bars

  1. I love lemon bars, these look terrific! Hope you get to go to Tartine some day :)

  2. These look amazing! Love the shortbread crust. I am definitely a lemon bar lover :)

  3. I’ve been to Tartine a number of times and it never disappoints! It is just as good as the hype and definitely worth the trip! I’m just a short drive away, but use both of their cookbooks at home to get my fix!

    • Hey Amanda, thanks for the feedback! So good to hear that Tartine lives up to its hype – now I really really have to go lol! Have you tried the morning buns? And is there anything in the baking book you would recommend?! 😀 thanks!

      • Yes they are wonderful! I’d suggest the croissant dough. It has a nice added dimension from using starter, and if you’re feeling ambitious it can always be turned into the morning bun!

        • Thanks Amanda! I’ll be sure to try out the croissants. I have made the morning buns before, they were amazing, I’ll have to do them again too. So jealous you are only a short drive away! Lucky! :-)

  4. These really look amazing AND I just love lemons. So happy they’re in season now. Definitely going to make :)

    • Thanks Laura! Let me know how you go! ps. Love your blog, and your wedding photos! :-)

      • Awwww! Thank you so much :) That little comment made my day! I’m only so new on the blogging scene I often feel insecure about it. I get such inspiration of amazing lady-bloggers such as you, so thank you!! p.s. Will definitely let you know how I go with the bars – I’m thinking it might have to be a baking weekend :) xx

        • You’re welcome! You’re off to such a great start I’m sure your blog will grow quickly! I’m still amazed that anyone reads mine and comments like yours, about me being an “amazing lady-blogger”, shock me still!! So thanks! :-) Haha good luck with it all 😀

  5. I have a lemon tree so I’m excited to find this recipe! Wonder why it’s called brown butter though?

    • Hi! I used lemons from my grandmother’s tree and it was amazing, so I’m sure you’ll have similar results! I was puzzled by the “brown butter” label in the Tartine book too, I think its because of how far you take the pastry, until it is really quite golden brown, and the flavours that that brings out compared to a blonde shortbread :-)

      • There’s also a little thing called browning the butter. Where you heat the butter in a pan or pot until it’s a light golden brown, then let it cool before adding it to your mixture. I used the technique once in a ‘browned butter coconut cookie’ recipe, and it turned out fantastic! :) Maybe that’s what it meant?

        • Hi Sierra! I know what brown butter is. However, the recipe doesn’t call for brown butter – just softened regular butter. Hence the Tartine “brown butter” label probably referring to the pastry’s colour.

  6. Lissie on August 8, 2012 at 4:51 am said:

    This recipe looks delicious! Did I miss something though? They’re called “Brown Butter Shortbread…” but I don’t see any instructions for browning the butter before making the dough.

    • Hi Lissie! Thanks! I was puzzled by the “brown butter” label in the Tartine book too, but I think it refers to how far you take the pastry, until it is really quite golden brown, and the flavours that that brings out compared to a blonde shortbread :-)

  7. Hi Natasha!
    what a great recipe for lemon bars! I haven’t tried a lemon bar yet because it is not that common here in Singapore but yours look soo delicious! I am definitely bookmarking it:D

  8. These look delicious! I have finally finished living out of a suitcase after 3 months traveling, and FINALLY have a kitchen again. This is going to be the first on my list of things to try out. Hopefully I remember how to bake!

    • Haha I’m sure you’ll remember how to bake! And how exciting, that you don’t have to live out of a suitcase anymore! I love travelling but the suitcase drains it! Good luck :-)

      • Thanks!! I am actually going to SF this weekend, and I remembered your post, so I have put Tartine on my list of things to do/see this weekend. Can’t wait!

        • Oh Jen! I’m jealous! Can you please have a morning bun for me? And take a photo?
          And if you have the chance, you should totally go an line up at Dottie Blue’s for one of the best breakfasts you will ever eat :-)
          Have the best time in SF!

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  12. I will bake these this weekend! They look absolutely delicious! I just discovered your blog and I love your beautiful photos! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

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  16. Well, I’ve never been to tartine, but I tried these out a few weeks ago for a family dinner. There were none left. I’m definitely a beginner. In fact, I think these were my first real baking attempt. However, your instructions were clear and very specific (exactly what I needed), and yielded amazing results. End result being that a double recipe has been requested for thanksgiving. Luckily, my mom has a friend with a lemon tree in its prime at the moment. Exciting baking times!! 😛

    Thanks for the recipe and awesome instructions!

  17. Just made these today and they were a big hit! They’re so addictive; I ate at least three. Thanks for the recipe! :)

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