Specialty of the House: Tart and tasty lemon bars

May 23, 2014 

Madhatter Bakeshop and Cafe’s lemon bars have been on the menu for so long that the owner, Fida Ghanam, cannot recall a time without them.

JULI LEONARD — jleonard@newsobserver.com

For my husband’s birthday, I’d like to knock his socks off. The only way to do this is to make a lemon bar as good as the MadHatter’s. Could you please ask them to share it? I’d be ever grateful.

Rachel Cummings


Madhatter Bakeshop and Cafe owner Fida Ghanam was happy to share the recipe for the restaurant’s lemon bars. This dessert has been on the menu for so long that she cannot recall a time without it. The lemon bars are very popular. “They have their own following,” Ghanam said.

The original recipe called for double the ingredients and baking in a 16.5-by-24-inch jelly roll pan. For home cooks, we cut the ingredients in half and baked it in a 9-by-13-inch pan with good results.

Madhatter Bakeshop’s Lemon Bars

Recipe tester’s notes: The original recipe called for double the ingredients to be baked in a 16.5-inch-by-24-inch jelly roll pan.

4 1/2 cups flour, divided

7 cups sugar, divided

1 pound butter (4 sticks)

12 eggs

1 cup lemon juice, from about 4-5 lemons

Zest from all lemons used for juice

Powdered sugar, optional

HEAT oven to 350 degrees.

PULSE 4 cups flour and 1 cup sugar in food processor. Add butter and blend, 8 to 10 seconds, and then pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. (Recipe tester: This can also be done in a large bowl with a biscuit cutter and your fingers until it resembles coarse meal.) Sprinkle mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Press firmly into an even layer with slightly raised sides to hold in the filling. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 15 mins.

WHISK together eggs, 6 cups sugar and 1/2 cup flour; stir in lemon juice and zest, blend well. Pour mixture onto top of the baked warm crust. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the filling feels firm when touched lightly. (You may need to cover with foil to prevent filling from browning too much.)

CHILL for at least one hour before serving.

Yield: 24 servings.

Specialty of the House gets recipes for local restaurant dishes. Send requests, including your city, to Specialty of the House, The N&O, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, N.C. 27602; or email aweigl@newsobserver.com.

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