Buttery Lemon Bars: A Recipe in Pictures (or What Was I Thinking!?!?)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

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Recently, my editor at Creative Loafing asked me if I could put together a recipe containing mostly pictures for their upcoming photography issue.  I’m a sport, so I said “Sure!”.  Then, I got the bright idea that I would do a recipe that was presented using ONLY pictures.   That’s right, no words allowed.  I decided to make these lemon bars, because I love, love, love them.  And, since today is officially the first day of Spring, sharing bright, sunny, citrusy lemon bars couldn’t be more perfectly timed.   What was I thinking!?!?

Three solid days and five hundred photographs later, I was pulling my hair out, wondering what kind of idiot was I to even attempt this!  Yes, that’s right.  Five. Hundred. Photographs. At the same time I was trying to actually prepare and bake these lemon bars. And, not just shooting the photos either, but reviewing, organizing and editing them as well.  Oh yes, and also grouping them into cohesive little photo vignettes, so that they would make sense in my photo “recipe”.

Of course, with this recipe timing is everything, so I was rushing around like a madwoman trying to set up and snap shots before my ingredients got too warm, too cool, too thick, too thin and the light got too bright, too dim, too far north and too far south.

Sigh…

By the time I was finished, I couldn’t have given a $*#& about those lemon bars!  All I was in the mood for was a big bottle of Advil with a Valium chaser!

After this little debacle exercise I’m convinced that I must be either a total masochist or just plain crazy!

But hey, the work is done, so I’ll let you decide if it was worth it.  Does the “recipe” make sense to you?    Could you actually make these lemon bars just by looking at the pictures?   I’ve gone ahead and printed the actual recipe at the end of this post just in case you would like to make them and I’ve failed miserably in my efforts.

Let me know what you think in the comments.  I’m going to go pour myself a tall, stiff drink!  Oy!

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68 responses to Buttery Lemon Bars: A Recipe in Pictures (or What Was I Thinking!?!?)

  1. On March 20, 2011 at 12:55pm, bellini said...

    This is a much more difficult task than it seems. It is like trying to create a foreighn film without subtitles.I think you mastered it though.

    • On March 20, 2011 at 2:06pm, Susan said...

      Great analogy, Val. Definitely not as easy as I thought it would be!

  2. On March 20, 2011 at 1:19pm, Jenni said...

    1)I absolutely could have made them just by the pix alone, but I would’ve assumed that the 10T of butter was just 1 stick (because I didn’t count. I just thought you’d cut it up to make it easier to blend in).
    2)Yes, you are a crazy person. But in a good way!!
    3)Your editor at Creative Loafing should be very pleased!

    • On March 20, 2011 at 2:08pm, Susan said...

      Thanks, Jenni! :D Point taken on the butter. Did you notice how I smushed the piece in the front to show that it needed to be softened?

  3. On March 20, 2011 at 1:24pm, Jess Wakasugi said...

    Wow, what a feat! I can imagine how frustrating that would have been, but also how rewarding that you got it all done! Great post, love the pictures, and the bars look phenomenal!

    • On March 20, 2011 at 2:08pm, Susan said...

      Thanks, Jess! So glad you like it! :)

  4. On March 20, 2011 at 2:13pm, Janie said...

    Lemon bars on one of my favorites…love the pictures..it probably wasn’t as easy to do, as the results look. Very nice…

  5. On March 20, 2011 at 3:14pm, Jessie@simplysifted said...

    This is incredible! The pictures are beautiful and very easy to follow. The only trouble I can see people having is trying to read the measurements on the measuring spoons and cups. It’s not entirely clear if they’re tablespoons or teaspoons and the small measuring cup of flour could be 1/3 or 1/4 cup.

    • On March 20, 2011 at 10:01pm, Susan said...

      I did notice that. The measure markings on the spoons and cups were very clear in each photo. However, when the photos were reduced for the vignettes, they became too small to read. I was worried that if I left each picture separate, the page would take forever to load!

  6. On March 20, 2011 at 3:20pm, Rosa said...

    So divine! lemon bars are heavenly and those look really terrific.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  7. On March 20, 2011 at 3:32pm, MaryBeth said...

    These look amazing…I love to eat lemon bars. I have a hard time making them, my crust always seems to be too hard.

  8. On March 20, 2011 at 4:28pm, J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) said...

    Those look absolutely divine!!

  9. On March 20, 2011 at 4:32pm, Joan Nova said...

    Well done Susan! I totally understood the directions. In fact, for visual types like me, it’s easier than reading the text.

    • On March 20, 2011 at 10:02pm, Susan said...

      Thanks, Joan! I’m the same way.

  10. On March 20, 2011 at 4:38pm, Moe said...

    I love lemon bars and have a similar recipe. My question is how do you keep the icing sugar from dissolving and the bars looking pretty. I always find by the next day there isn’t pretty white sugar on top. I’ve tried waiting long to apply and it still happens. Anyone else have this problem?

    Lovely photo display! BTW ;)

    • On March 20, 2011 at 10:03pm, Susan said...

      My icing dissolves too. I just sprinkle a little more on before I serve them. You can’t see or taste the gloppy sugar underneath. :)

  11. On March 20, 2011 at 5:04pm, Kalynskitchen said...

    Nice job! I think you illustrated the recipe perfectly. (It does seem like an incredible lot of work though.)

    • On March 20, 2011 at 10:05pm, Susan said...

      Thanks! And yes, it really was way too much work to do on a regular basis. :p

  12. On March 20, 2011 at 5:21pm, Denise @ Creative Kitchen said...

    Wow!!! You sure did take on a challenge…whew! I can imagine I’d have gotten quite crabby if others were around…did you have the house to yourself (or did your husband know to lay low :) They did turn out BEAUTIFUL and I could definitely follow the recipe by pictures alone. GREAT job!!!

    Denise @ Creative Kitchen

    • On March 20, 2011 at 10:14pm, Susan said...

      Thank you so much!

      No, I did not have the house to myself. And, you have no idea how crabby I was! My family is still hiding! ;)

  13. On March 20, 2011 at 5:29pm, Karen@Mignardise said...

    “Oy” is right! What a project!
    But you totally got it. The photos are fabulous. Make me want a lemon bar asap.

    • On March 20, 2011 at 10:15pm, Susan said...

      Oh, you must try them! This recipe i the bet I’ve tried. :D

  14. On March 20, 2011 at 6:04pm, Tina Pinho said...

    These Lemon Bars look too too delicious! But a little too much work for me. I would rather buy them at Whole Foods and forget all the work and just enjoy the bars and their not cheap either. But once in awhile you have to indulge!!! The pictures are Beautful!!!!

    • On March 20, 2011 at 10:16pm, Susan said...

      Hehehe! That certainly is another way to go. ;)

  15. On March 20, 2011 at 6:30pm, heavenscent0ne said...

    What a major project I’m sure!
    You did a great job!
    And I could figure out how to make them but a novice baker would be lost I think.
    They look fabulous!

    • On March 20, 2011 at 10:17pm, Susan said...

      I’d probably suggest that a novice baker just go to Whole Foods for lemon bars with Tina. ;)

  16. On March 20, 2011 at 7:10pm, Lael Hazan @educatedpalate said...

    Wow, I’m in awe. What an incredibly impressive and time consuming feat; however, the results are stupendous. Brava.

    • On March 20, 2011 at 10:18pm, Susan said...

      Grazie, Lael! Glad you like it.

  17. On March 20, 2011 at 8:52pm, Sara said...

    I LOVE how you showed that the butter was “softened”. I got it right away- how clever! I know this must have been a total pain for you, but what a neat concept. I think you did a great job. :)

    • On March 20, 2011 at 10:19pm, Susan said...

      Thank you so much for noticing that! It was one of my fave things about the whole “recipe”. :D

  18. On March 20, 2011 at 9:51pm, Felice - All That's Left Are The Crumbs said...

    I bow down to your beautiful photos and perseverance. I struggle getting a few good shots so I would have lost it doing something like this. Your lemon bars look incredibly delicious.

    • On March 20, 2011 at 10:20pm, Susan said...

      Aww! Thanks! {{{blushes}}}

  19. On March 20, 2011 at 10:08pm, Phyllis Kirigin said...

    The recipe is great and the photos even better. I can’t imagine all this could be done in one undertaking! Congratulate yourself Photographing anything after this should be a breeze!

    Phyllis, aka sweetpaprika.wordpress.com

    • On March 20, 2011 at 10:21pm, Susan said...

      Let’s hope so! :D

  20. On March 21, 2011 at 3:14am, Ellie @ Kitchen Wench said...

    Looks fantastic – but then again, any desserts with lemon make me weak at the knees :)

    • On March 21, 2011 at 9:57pm, Susan said...

      Me too! :)

  21. On March 21, 2011 at 7:11am, rose said...

    Wow!! From this day forth, please do your recipes in pictures. Because you are that good! Thanx for making my day.

    • On March 21, 2011 at 9:58pm, Susan said...

      Haha! Bite your tongue, Rose. This one almost killed me! ;)

  22. On March 21, 2011 at 10:13am, jmisgro said...

    Fantastic job as usual! Now I want some lemon bars too!

    • On March 21, 2011 at 9:59pm, Susan said...

      I’ll let you know when I make them again. Should be soon as I didn’t really get to enjoy this last batch.

  23. On March 21, 2011 at 11:01am, Liz said...

    Beautiful! I am so impressed! I agree that for an experienced baker this would be no problem and actually a fun challenge! The only part I might have not realized is to refrigerate them for a half hour. The softened butter and showing the curd coating the back of the spoon is pure genius!

    • On March 21, 2011 at 10:00pm, Susan said...

      Thanks! Believe it or not, I had a fridge picture and forgot to add it in. Grrrr!

  24. On March 21, 2011 at 1:08pm, Erica B. said...

    Oh ya! My fiance was just asking for these, now excuses!!

  25. On March 21, 2011 at 5:17pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    Wow. That’s pretty impressive how you put those together. Beautiful photo essay.

    I love lemon bars and I want these so badly. It’s all cold and sleety in NY today and these bars looks like hunks of sunshine!

    • On March 21, 2011 at 10:01pm, Susan said...

      Awww! Wish I could send you one through the web! :)

  26. On March 21, 2011 at 6:45pm, Katerina said...

    I have often been very impressed by bloggers who take step by step photos, but even then I clearly underestimated it! Wow, at least you have a beautiful result.

  27. On March 21, 2011 at 7:03pm, Esmerelda said...

    Girl you are indeed brillant! LOVE the PICS, come on down the street and let me feed you some Martinis!

    • On March 21, 2011 at 10:02pm, Susan said...

      Sounds good! Can we have Lemon Drops to go with the bars? ;)

  28. On March 21, 2011 at 7:14pm, Pat said...

    Susan your lemon bars speak of sunshine and a wonderful sweet tart taste! I can’t imagine how long it took you to do this step by step photo essay as I’m sure you had to keep stopping to wash and dry your hands between every step both ways. :)
    I saw on Publishers Weekly that IKEA of all places put out a cookbook called “Hembakat är Bäst” (Homemade is Best) whose recipes are all photos, with shots taken from above looking down –just like their step by step furniture instructions!

    • On March 21, 2011 at 10:25pm, Susan said...

      Thank you, Pat! Yes, there was quite a bit of lemon goo everywhere.

      The cookbook sounds very interesting. I hope the author was well-paid. Must’ve been a lot of work! :)

  29. On March 21, 2011 at 7:34pm, Janet said...

    This is one of those recipe vignettes that absolutely make your mouth pucker in anticipation, right from the very first photo! FAB job! Oh, and have you ever tried King Arthur’s “non melting” confectioners sugar..? It’s wonderful! Use it when you don’t have time to re-sprinkle! http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/snow-white-topping-sugar-16-oz

    • On March 21, 2011 at 10:26pm, Susan said...

      Thanks for the tip! I’m definitely going to try that. I had to re-sprinkle every 5 minutes!

  30. On March 21, 2011 at 8:53pm, Kristen said...

    You seriously went above and beyond with this and I can totally tell why a stiff drink was needed!
    You are quite impressive :) WEll done!

    • On March 21, 2011 at 10:27pm, Susan said...

      Thanks, Kristen! {{{blushing}}} :D

  31. On March 22, 2011 at 12:23pm, Valerie @ City|Life|Eats said...

    This makes total sense, but I can only imagine how much work this had to be.

  32. On March 22, 2011 at 12:23pm, Valerie @ City|Life|Eats said...

    PS – it’s been a while since I commented (my blog used tobe called City Girl LIfestyle) but I always read and enjoy your posts so much :)

  33. On March 22, 2011 at 3:36pm, Joanne at Frutto della Passione said...

    Oh wow Susan, the work behind this post just blows my mind. The idea is brilliant and I think that many, many first time bakers would LOVE a recipe with this much visual detail, but as a blogger I don’t know if I could ever have the patience to do something like this. Congratulations on a stunning presentation and those lemon bars look divine!

  34. On March 22, 2011 at 10:12pm, Christine said...

    BEAUTIFUL!

    that was so beautiful. I loved every minute of it! I could practically taste the awesome bars with your beautiful display. It melted my baker’s heart. I love it! That is awesome. well done my friend!

    on a side note, I think anyone could figure it out, and maybe with the smaller vignette it made it less obvious….but just in case someone questions it might help to show a whole lemon/ lemon juicer with the zest picture…I think I saw one in the juice picture….

  35. On March 23, 2011 at 11:05am, Bren said...

    my gosh these lemon bars are divine and def. worth the 500 shots for spring… okay, maybe not 500, but maybe 100!?!! ;) The tutorial makes sense to me so you’ve accomplished what you were tasked with! I love it.

  36. On March 23, 2011 at 1:12pm, Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen said...

    Um yes – I am now convinced. You. Are. Superwoman. ♥

  37. On March 24, 2011 at 2:06pm, Lucy said...

    Wow I admire your dedication! I think it worked really well and I could follow the recipe. It would definitely help whilst you’re cooking because you could see exactly what each step should look like.

  38. On March 29, 2011 at 8:47am, nicole said...

    this is beautiful, stunning, outstanding, clear, and yummy. I think you did a fantastic job. It is really clear. Everything from the ingredients, steps, baking temp, and cook time. You might be over the whole process but you should be proud of doing such a great job

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  40. On March 30, 2011 at 12:57pm, Chez Us said...

    Susan, GREAT post! I love the crunched up butter; did you toss it on the floor. I have often thought of doing this same thing. Then I start snapping, and after about 100 photos, I stop. Yes, I stop mid way. Glad you didn’t because now I may have to make some lemon bars!

  41. On April 08, 2011 at 1:49pm, Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes said...

    I think you did a FABULOUS job! So brilliantly creative, I love it!

  42. On April 15, 2011 at 12:50pm, Kelly said...

    That is one heckofalotta work. 500 photos? Crazy! I love lemon bars, and I always enjoy food photography, but honestly, a recipe fits in a box the size of one of those photos and standing at my kitchen counter, I can keep the screen focused on the recipe. To try and follow a series of this many photos (however gorgeous!) wouldn’t work for me. I’m one of those people wh doesn’t mind a cookbook without photos :)

  43. On January 26, 2012 at 1:11pm, Sally said...

    Hi
    The beginning part of receipe was difficult to figure out what the actual measure was, a tablespoon or a teaspoon, a cup vs a 1/2 cup , etc. Maybe just showing a pic of the measuring device with it’s size, would be helpful. Having to guess the correct measure was not the greatest.

    A long tome baker

  44. On July 04, 2012 at 7:21am, Olivia M said...

    Hi!

    I just wanted to say I love this recipe! I’m a huge lemon fan, and I love lemon bars. So many of the recipes I look at incorporate flour into the lemon topping, something about that just seems wrong to me! I love the true curd! I just spent the night making these for a second time, and have eaten 3 bars so far :) I’m glad to be able to connect with other bakers online!

    Thanks!

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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