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Lemon bar at Popover Bistro & Bakery in Simsbury

Most chefs don’t want to see their customers grimace when tasting their food. But Pamela Paydos, the chef-owner of Popover Bistro & Bakery in Simsbury, wants to see just that when people try her lemon bars.

“I love watching the lips pucker as a customer bites into one of these bars,” Paydos says. “It’s very tart, yet the crust has a nice sweetness that balances it.”

Lemon bars are a refreshing way to top off a summer celebration, Paydos says. “I love using fresh and local produce when cooking and baking. When making the lemon bars, I use fresh-squeezed lemon juice and a lot of fresh zest.” The recipe bypasses the usual cornstarch. “We like to use as little processed foods as possible.”

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Pamela Paydos, chef-owner of Popover Bistro & Bakery in Simsbury

At Popover, it’s all about local, organic and delicious. The bakery’s menu offers a variety of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.

Opening Popover in 2014, Paydos designed the entire menu and still bakes full time. “Customers tell me the lemon bars are the best they’ve ever had. I love creating foods that put a smile on a customer’s face.”

Pamela Paydos’ Lemon bars

Makes 12 bars • Time: 90 minutes

Shortbread crust

  • 2 sticks unsalted organic butter (you can also use regular) 
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract (make sure it’s pure vanilla)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Cream butter and sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy.

Add in the egg yolk, lemon zest and vanilla and continue mixing until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt with a spoon; slowly add to the butter mixture and use the mixer for about a minute until the ingredients are all thoroughly incorporated.

Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.

While the dough is chilling, make lemon curd.

Lemon curd

  • 2 cups organic lemon juice (or use fresh squeezed)
  • ½ cup organic butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 8 whole eggs
  • 4 yolks
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest

In a small pan, combine lemon juice, heavy cream, and butter. Heat on stove until butter is melted and just about to boiling point.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and sugar with a wire whisk until completely blended. Add butter mixture to sugar and eggs and stir until incorporated. It will be thick and yellow.

Transfer the mixture back to the pan and heat mixture on medium until it becomes thick, an almost pudding-like consistency, stirring constantly. Do not let it boil.

Pour mixture through a sieve into a large container.

Add salt, lemon zest and vanilla. Stir well. Put aside while you roll out the dough.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to about a quarter-inch thick. The size should fit the bottom of a 9-by-11-inch pan with at least two-thirds-inch sides. Spray the pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment. You can also spray the parchment.

Place dough in pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until slightly golden brown.

Remove from oven and pour lemon curd over the top. Return to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, still at 350, until curd has set and is firm and looks golden.

Remove from oven and cool at least 5 hours in the refrigerator and then cut into squares. Serve chilled. If desired, dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Pamela Brown is a former English professor, a prolific freelance writer, and author of Faithful Love, her first novel that inspired a love of writing. She resides in Connecticut with her daughter, Alexis, who makes her life an adventure. 

This article appeared in the July 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get the latest and greatest content from Connecticut Magazine delivered right to your inbox. Got a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com, or contact us on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag.