Sweet Endings — Simply the Zest 

It’s hard to beat these classic bars as the final, sweet-tart taste for a summer supper. 

When we lived in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, my late husband Gary and I would go to church suppers. Everything was made from scratch, and you never knew what you’d get. Pot pies and salad, stew and homemade bread, or a thick chowder with freshly baked rolls, it was all good and warming during the wet winter months.

And then there were the desserts. Squares, cakes, pies, and puddings were tantalizingly displayed, ready for eating.  

One of our favourites was a lemon bar made by an older lady named Betty. Gary loved them so much, that she finally gave him the recipe after four years of asking. I don’t know where she got it, whether it was a family recipe handed down or one she found in a cookbook or magazine, but those were his favourite lemon bars he had ever tasted. 

Serve them with raspberry sorbet, lemon sherbet, vanilla bean ice cream, or a fruit salad for an easy dessert at a summer barbecue or dinner.


Betty’s Lemon Bars


1 cup butter  

2 cups icing sugar

2 cups flour


4 eggs, well beaten

1 ⅔ cups white sugar

Zest of 2 lemons

6 Tbsp lemon juice 

1 tsp baking powder

4 Tbsp flour

1 cup shredded coconut (optional)

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF.


Cream together butter and icing sugar in a stand mixer then add the flour and mix well (it will be a dry dough). Spread in a 15-by-10-inch jelly roll pan and pat down. Bake 15 minutes on the middle rack of a 350ºF oven until pale tan in colour.


Mix sugar and eggs together in a stand mixer. Add lemon zest and juice and mix well. Add flour, salt, and baking powder and mix well. Add coconut if using and mix. Pour over the crust.

Bake for 25 minutes on the middle rack of a 350ºF oven. Let cool and cut into bars or squares. 

Will keep in a covered container for four days. Can be frozen for up to a month.

Yield: This recipe makes many treats. Whether rectangular or square, you can get 30 to 48 pieces, depending on how large or small you make them. I let it cool almost completely, loosen the edges, and slide the whole batch out onto a cutting board. Then I cut into the size I want. Easy peasy.

Image:  Jacqueline Downey

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