These lovely Lemon Pastry Bars were made with strawberries inspired by the Delaplane Strawberry Festival, founded by Willard Scott and his wife, Mary.
It was my daughter Katie who made these Lemon Pastry Bars happen. She turned 9 last week and had her birthday dinner all planned out. Loaded Potato Soup and Lemon Pastry Bars. Lucky for me, I’d been given a recipe to try by a friend and have been holding onto it for a few months until strawberry season arrived. I asked Katie if she would like strawberries in the bars, too, and her little eyes lit up.
We’d just been to the Delaplane Strawberry Festival so it made perfect sense to make these Lemon Pastry Bars. Of course, we’d already eaten all the strawberries having shared a flat with my parents, but there were plenty more where that came from!
The Delaplane Strawberry Festival is held each year in Delaplane, VA. This is how it was described to me:
The Delaplane Strawberry Festival was started 22 years ago on Memorial Day weekend by local resident Willard Scott (Today Show) and his wife, Mary. It was a one-day festival that they developed on behalf of their small country church and it raised money for area non-profits. The problem was that, with a one-day event, the weather was typically poor on that one day. So, they expanded to a two-day event. The Delaplane Strawberry Festival was more like a large church picnic with old-fashioned children’s games (ring toss, tug-of-war, 3-legged races, sack hops, etc.) and lots of strawberries. However, Willard mentioned it on the Today Show a few times and suddenly there were lines of cars snaked down Route 17 waiting to get into Sky Meadows State Park (where the event is now held every year). More than 10,000 people now attend the festival each year and, although Willard’s wife Mary passed away from cancer more than five years ago, it’s not unusual to see Willard walking through the crowd (he lives nearby). There are more than 6,000 pints of strawberries in the form of sundaes, shakes, cakes, pints for sale and just about every culinary dish you can make with a strawberry!
We had such a fun day visiting the festival! The girls and I took my parents (who just happen to live less than 2 miles from the festival!) and spent about three hours just enjoying the gorgeous weather, listening to the bagpipes, enjoying strawberry shortcake, hay and pony rides and so much more! The girls were able to see some interesting animals, too…their favorites were definitely the birds:
We did, of course, go home with an enormous amount of strawberries, too. They were the biggest and prettiest strawberries we’d ever seen! It was just an incredible time and we’ll definitely go back next year.
These Lemon Pastry Bars are part bar, part pastry and part cake…they’re a bit difficult to describe so that’s the best I can do in terms of texture. The flavor is easier…lemon, strawberry and sweetness…they’re really a delight! The recipe doesn’t make a lot, which was perfect for us; you may want to double it if you’d like more. I try not to keep too many sweet leftovers around…although these bars might be worth it!
These bars come together quickly, too…mix your batter, spread half in a dish, cover with strawberries and top with remaining batter then bake. You can gently fold the strawberries into the batter if you prefer – either way will work. These Lemon Pastry Bars would be perfect for a small brunch, shower or the ending to a spring meal. Or, of course, a sweet girl’s 9th birthday party :)
For the bars
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 lemons, zested
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 large strawberries, diced
For the glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, more or less to the consistency you prefer
Make the bars
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add egg, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix until very well combined and smooth.
- In a medium bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder (a whisk works great for this but a spoon will do). Add dry ingredients to the bowl in the standing mixer and mix on very low speed until just combined (do not overmix). Batter will be thick and sticky.
- Grease an 8x8 baking dish. Gently spread half the batter onto bottom of dish. Spread strawberries over the top, then carefully spread the rest of the batter over the top (batter is sticky; wet your spoon to help this step or wet your hands to spread the batter).
- Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool.
Make the glaze
- Mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice until you reach desired consistency. Pour glaze over the bars (I like to leave small parts uncovered but you can cover the bars completely if you prefer). Serve and enjoy!