These tangy Vintage Lemon Squares have always been a favorite of mine, growing up my Nana and mom made these in the Spring. I’ve taken their 1960’s vintage lemon square recipe with a tangy, sweet curd-like filling on top of a rich, buttery crust…and baked it modern. The vintage recipe they used was from a 1963 “Betty Crocker’s Cooky Cookbook.”
Vintage Inspiration: A 1963 recipe from “Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book”
I’ve taken this 1960’s recipe and baked it modern:
- used salted butter for the crust
- beat the eggs for 3 minutes until light and fluffy
- added cornstarch to stabilize the filling
- Added lemon zest to the crust and to filling to enhance the flavor
- baked in a 9×13 pan vs. 8×8 pan
Bakers tips for Vintage Lemon Squares:
perfecting the crust:
If you are using a mixer to make the crust, cream together the butter and sugars and then add the flour and zest just until it comes together into a crumbly texture, which resembles pie crust. If you mix too long it will turn into more of a shortbread cookie crust. Lightly press the mixture flat into the pan and prick the bottom and sides with a fork. This will help steam escape and keep the bottom of the flat.
After the crust is baked before adding the filling, lightly dust with a thickening agent (this can be cornstarch, tapioca starch or ClearJel) prior to pouring in the filling. This step prevents a soggy crust.
How to zest & juice citrus:
By adding freshly grated lemon zest and a bit of lemon juice, it will add some extra flavor to the crust and the filling. Be sure to put lemons on the counter the day you plan to use them. Room temperature lemons will yield more lemon juice than lemons straight out of the fridge. The best tool for zesting citrus is a microplane. Then after you zest the fruit, use a handheld citrus squeezer or a glass citrus reamer.
How to garnish:
Let squares cool for 1-2 hours and sprinkle with powdered sugar. When serving the squares, dip knife into hot water before slicing to prevent from sticking to the filling. It is best to clean-off your knife in between cutting the slices as the filling will be sticky. Place on a plate and dust again with a little more powdered sugar.
Looking for more lemon recipes? Try my Lemon Meringue Pie
Vintage Lemon Squares
- 2 c. unbleached flour
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. confectioner sugar
- 1 c. salted butter room temp
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 3/4 c. superfine sugar
- 4 eggs + 1 yolk
- 1/3 c. lemon juice
- 1 T. cornstarch
- 2 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 T. confectioner sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
- Zest and juice 2 lemons.
- Cream together butter and sugar into stand mixer. Add flour and lemon zest and pulse until crumbly (cookie dough like texture).
- Pierce with fork and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Mix together sugar, eggs, and egg yolk until light in color about 3 minutes. Add lemon juice, cornstarch, baking powder, lemon zest and mix until just incorporated.
- Pour lemon filling onto baked crust.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
- Allow to cool for at least 1-2 hours.
- Sprinkle powdered sugar all over the top and cut into bars into squares.
- Store in container.