The Story of Great Aunt Kay’s Lemon Bars



My aunt Kay (my grandpa McRae’s sister, so shes my great aunt) was the biggest influence – actually my only influence for great cooking – not to diss my mom, but aunt Kay was a foodie before it became fashionable.  She was our relative who moved from Montana to California and my grandparents and parents followed.  Not only was she a great cook, she was feisty and fashionable.  She would vocalize her opinion no matter what the issue and wore designer jeans and pumps in her 70s and was super hot (argh, even though it’s true, it sounds weird). She traveled extensively and always prepared seasonal items — rhubarb pie in the spring, homemade chocolate and dried fruits for the holidays, Finn bread in the fall.   We always had our special meals at her house.  She introduced me to so many cooking techniques and the first one I excelled at was her lemon bars, my favorite treat. 

During hard times at UC Davis, I found solace in baking – it was sort of cathartic – I  would take it to my professors, neighbors and dance students.  Aunt Kay passed away in my last year of college; she was so dear to me and I miss her so much.  Following is her recipe that is actually quite easy to make and very yummy!


 cups flour
1/2  cup powdered sugar
 cup butter (chilled and sliced into 1 tbsp bricks)
My addition:  Zest from one lemon

Aunt Kay used two forks to mix it up, but I found that making it in the food processor actually works better – pulse it until it becomes a “butter ball” (approximately 20 pulses,  don’t over process).  I also added lemon zest from one lemon to the crust – Aunt Kay would be proud :-). Press crust into 9×13 pan, poke a fork throughout, bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.


1/4  cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
4 eggs beaten
 cups sugar
1/3  cup fresh lemon juice

Mix and pour over crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

For more favorite family recipes, click here.

Share | Tags: ·

Leave a Comment

3 Comments so far ↓

  • Garrett | Jun 30, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Interesting blog. Can’t wait to see what all of you dish out! Welcome to the Sac blog world. 🙂

  • Jenna | Jul 2, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    I made Great Aunt Kay’s lemon bars this weekend… One tip- bake the filling until the top is lightly golden brown, which may be a bit longer than 25 minutes. Take them to a party- they’re a real crowd pleaser!

  • Darlene | Jul 31, 2007 at 11:27 am

    My mom was wonderful. I love that photo of her. Your blog is so great. We are all proud of you and your life and the enthusiastic way that you live it.