if the recipe is from a book, is it considered fair use to reproduce on the web?
I don't know. That's a good question. I'm pretty sure it's not okay to copy the text from someone else's book without permission, but since I executed the recipe from the book and then wrote about how I executed the recipe, it might be a slightly different case. If you look at Baking Illustrated, you'll find the recipe differs ever so slightly because I found it easier to do certain things in a certain order and it still worked. I will have to find out about that - time to send an e-mail to Cook's Illustrated.
So, Cook's wrote back and said it was okay so long as I credit the source and include the correct recipe. If I alter the recipe, it should be clearly stated.
Hi Michael, it's Lynn from Orkut's cooking community.
Just snooped around your website per your invitation to do so.
You've highlighted some recipes I'm already eager to try. Thanks for that.
I really like that you have also posted pictures.
Firstly, I love how you rpesent the recipes - the table format is a unique (to my knowledge), compact and sensible way of presenting recipes.
I have a FANTASTIC version of lemon bars that has whole cranberries added as a top layer. It's like eating sweet & sour condensed milk lemon heaven!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested.
Recipes are not copyrightable under US law.
Well, you're half right: "Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection."
However a recipe may still be subject to copyright protections if it is:
"accompanied by a substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook."
For futher reference, check the US Copyright Office documentation at:
Great recipies. Copyright the table format and write a book!!
This seems like a job for patents, not copyrights.
In my layman's view of how intellectual property law works, I imagine that Michael can copyright one particular table (e.g. this one for lemon bars) or patent the system of displaying a recipe in tabular form.
Any actual IP attorneys care to set us straight?
Great site, how about implementing the metrics system so we europeans can use the recepies ;-)
Yes, that's on my things to think about how to do correctly and easily. Without changing how I post articles, I can't think of a simple solution to presenting U.S. and metric sizes. I don't want to burden myself with too much extra work when writing articles because I know that as soon as it stops being fun and becomes a chore, I'll stop writing.
Until I figure it out, use Google Search to perform conversions: "2/3 cup in mL" (sorry, we Americans use volumetric measurements)
Recipes *are* copyrightable under U.S. law. Just like any other literary work.
But, only the description in the recipe can be copyrighted, not the actual recipe itself (i.e. the process itself).
Thus, if you can find a different way to describe the same idea (Mom's Lemon Bars) then you're likely fine. A narrative description of how you went about putting together lemon bars might be enough, as might reproducting the recipe in table form. But who really knows what a judge will decide without caselaw... but given the relatively low creative content of a recipe description and how closely the description is tied to the process itself, there's probably a lot of leeway in how much of the description of the process you can use without it being infringement.
If you like the taste of lemons and enjoy the occasional aperitif, the following recipe might be of interest to you:
Zest of 10 lemons
750 ml. 100-proof vodka
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Quickly wash the lemons in hot tap water to remove the thin coating of carnauba wax. Remove the zest (yellow part of the rind) from the lemons. Be careful to leave as much of the white pith behind as possible, as it will impart a bitter taste to the finished product. Place the zest in a quart jar that will accommodate a tight fitting lid. Pour the vodka over the zest, tighten the lid, and place in a cool dark place for 14-20 days.
After the allotted time, strain the vodka through a fine mesh sieve into another container. The zest should be a pale, washed-out, light yellow. Place the pallid peel in a pan, add the cup of water, then the cup of sugar and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar completely. Strain the resulting simple syrup through a fine mesh sieve into the reserved vodka. Stir. You will end up with slightly more than a quart of lemony goodness. Place the liquid in a suitable container. Limoncello benefits from a period of aging, during which the flavor mellows somewhat.
Yield: approximately one quart (2 servings)
Serve ice-cold directly from the freezer in little jelly jars from Hickory Farms. It is best to make a double batch, since your friends and relatives will probably drink most of what you make, even though when you first brought it out they thought “Oh Boy, here we go again! Another weird idea from the Wizard of Odd”. But you showed them as they smacked their lips and asked for seconds….
A Simple Solution to The Naked Lemon Dilemma
After making Limoncello, you will end up with at least 10 zestless lemons. There is nothing more pathetic than citrus fruits that have surrendered to apathy, so I suggest the following options after removing the juice from the lemons - either freeze the juice for future use or make homemade lemonade…
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1.5 quarts cold water
Combine all ingredients and stir to thoroughly mix. Adjust sugar to taste. Serve over (this is the classy part) fresh-chipped hormone-free Canadian glacial lake ice in a chilled hand-blown lead-free glass with a swizzle stick made from organic free-range union harvested sugarcane. This is especially good topped with a shot of Limoncello.
Have you tried the Sunkist Lemon Bars mix? I have yet to find any lemon bar recipe that tastes 80% as good. The current one from Cooks Illustrated is OK. But really, if you haven't tried this mix, please get a box and do an experiment.
For an image of the box, go to the bottom of this page:
Thanks for posting the recipe though. Now back to the kitchen to see now to improve it (in the direction of mimicking Sunkist)... :P
I just found your site, and I love the format used for recipes. BUT: how do you print one? Any help would be appreciated.
There is a printer friendly link (right befoe the comments begin at the end of each article) that expands the width of the article and gets rid of ads - you can also toggle comment and pictures in that mode. Printing on a color printer doesn't work as well as on B&W. Try making your printer print in black and white if you have a color printer (the browser won't attempt to print the background and will render the text as black).
re: Sunkist lemon bars
I did try them. They are pretty good. Taste a bit fake to me, but that's just my taste. We may need to replace the fresh lemon juice with bottled or dehydrated. The shortbread in the sunkist also uses shortening instead of butter, which may make a difference. I felt the flavor of the shortbread was obviously not as buttery and the lemon filling was a bit sweeter than the Cook's Illustrated recipe.
Hi, I made this vegan.
For the base, I used the same mixture but with Earth Balance margarine for the butter. I did this with a hand mixer and it worked just as well, though it probably took a bit longer.
For the lemon bit, I used a vegweb recipe. The recipe is similar, but of lesser volume, so I doubled it.
* 6 eggs (EnerG Egg Replacer)
* 1 1/2 cup sugar
* lemon zest and juice of six small lemons
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 6 tablespoon flour
Try to incorporate the froth from the egg replacer as much as possible since otherwise it'll cook faster and form a skin on top.
Pour on top of the base and cook for 30-35 minutes (10-15 minutes longer than this recipe). The topping won't look solid since egg replacer is mostly starch; it will thicken as it cools.
The base of these bars is really crunchy and nice. Thanks Michael!
Can the lemon bars be frozen?
As American cup measures are widely available in the UK, I don't think a lack of either metric or Imperial weight conversions will hamper a dedicated cook.
Not sure if they're available in the rest of Europe though.
Great site by the way!
I believe that the recipe my family uses is from sunkist, I tried the box version and it does not compare. The best lemon bars are made with fresh squeezed lemons, mmm. I love lemon bars, I find that they are the only edible form of lemon which I generally dislike, weird.
Okay, since you have thee best recipe from Sunkiss... then why not share it?
I like your site, and have made Tiramisu using your recipe, which turned out wonderfully!
I have a question about lemon bars. When you stir lemon jouice and milk into the filling mixutre, doesn't the milk curdle? Is it OK if it does? Cann't wait to try your recipe, I love lemon bars.
It's okay if it does. The top layer is actually a type of lemon curd.
Mmmmm...Do you have a recipe for lemon curd? And scones??? ;)
hi fellow lemonlovers!
loved the recipe and the family loved it too....no need to wrap up leftovers because there were not any !
A note on lemon peel - I dont know about the US - but in europe its not safe to use the peel of conventionally farmed lemons or other citrus fruit. More then once DDT, Lindan and other dangerous pestizides have been found IN the peel....scrubbing the fruits wont work here.
So now for me its only organic citrus fruits, especially when I want to use the peel.
regards and again thank you for the recipe
Thanx for the recipe. It has a really strong lemon flavor, which is a bit too strong for my taste (I even left out the lemon zest). I tried making it in a 9x9 pan instead, so I made 3/4 of the recipe, but I had to cook the filling an extra ~10 min (so total around 30 min). Just thought I'd share that. :)
cute website...I have always made lemon bars, but was in a hurry for a recipe and came across yours....followed your directions, except I did have to substitute 2 % milk ( and I don't recall having milk in my recipe)....but...my bars came out upside down....no crust on the bottom...hummmm.. :huh: .....but.....I love em anyway....made them for a happy hour get together and i'm sure everyone will too....
I was cooking another lemon bar recipe from recipezaar.com, and came across your site. How great that you've posted the pictures of the different steps. That is incredibly helpful!
If I am not mistaken, it should be shortbread not shorbread.
Love the site. Thanks ^_^.
Thanks for the catch - I've fixed it.
I think I'm right in thinking that this is what's known as icing sugar in the UK. If so, it might be a good addition to the ingredients dictionary...
My favorite topping to lemon bars is homemade chocolate leaves.
First pick and wash a few leaves of a citrus tree. Orange leaves work best, as the underside of the orange leaf has veins that stand out.
Melt some semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave so that the chips can be stirred together into a thick paste.
Smear the chocolate paste onto the underside of a leaf.
Refrigerate coated leaves for 5-10 minutes, then gently peel away leaf from chocolate.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Good with lemon bars, or fresh berries and whipped cream.
As an American living in Finland I don't get these as often as I would like ;) I found this site and just had to try them... better than the mixes I have received from home! Just great! However, how can I get a crispier top? I really like that on my mom's that she made :D
Successfully cooked these about an hour ago, they're lovely!
Two questions though:
1) When I make shortbread, I only use butter, salt and sugar (usually caster). What is the reason for using cornstarch/cornflour and confectioner's/icing sugar instead of caster or granulated? I couldn't really taste any difference but of course it's hard to differentiate with the lemony goo!
2) You say 'do not substitute' regarding the whole milk. Why? Why not semi-skimmed for instance, which is what I usually have in the fridge.
I can of course experiment, but I would appreciate any feedback and chemical analysis as to why!
A bit of chocolate drizzled onto the top of these lemon bars would be awesome, may have to try that! But frankly, they're sweet enough!
Many thanks for the recipe, and the website as a whole! :)
Would it be possible to get the "coarse meal texture" for the crust with, say, a pastry cutter? [I am sadly lacking in kitchen appliances...] I've made lemon bars with a crust of just flour, sugar, and butter, which were combined until there were only pea-sized lumps [or smaller] left. Would this work, or is a "coarse meal texture" different?
You can certainly use a pastry cutter or a couple knives to produce the same effect. The lumps should be a little smaller than pea sized.
Really just posting a comment so my 9 yeard son can see how comments work. Thanks for the great recipe.
I find it hilarious that a good portion of the comments relate to copyright -- THIS IS a cooking for engineer's web site. :) B)
Hey there. I am an engineer (of the civil variety) with a plethora of lemons from my tree here in California. Looking for ways to use them. Thanks for the recipe! I am going to try it now.
My receipe for Spice Lemon requires to use all part of lemon skin which means white and yellow. Although I know white makes bitter taste, I have no choice. Can anyone give me suggestion to get rid of bitter taste any how?
I have made lemon bars from that site too and they came out pretty good, but I like how you relayed your recipe with the pictures and I think they will come out even better.
Just found your site,it's wonderful! Good recipe format & love the pictures for those who sometimes wonder if it's "looking right" while assembling. In response to the cornstarch question,this is what helps to make the crust (shortbread) so flakey or tender. The milk is different & would make it more like a baked custard. I think it also helps to mellow potential bitterness from the lemon zest. With any baking experience,a sturdy fork,grater,& measuring instruments this could easily be all hand made.
[/b]The best lemon bars are made with fresh lemons instead of bottled lemon juice. It adds a fresher taste.
This is the first time I have ever made lemon bars. I must say your recipe is excellent and very easy to use. All I did was print out your graph and take it to the kitchen!! Wonderful! Thank You so much for this site. It has now became my favorite! Now off to try your praline Pecan recipe! ;)
i love lemon bars, but i don't have an oven.
this will be the first time i'll ever attempt to bake..
i'm about to try tour recipe using an oven toaster instead. hehehe.
any tips you might suggest?
Great recipe! The lemon bars were perfect except for one thing: the lemon curd tends to separate from the crust when served. Is there some trick to keep the lemon curd and the crust glued together?
1) your lemon bar recipe is the first I've seen that contains milk. What's the purpose of the milk?
2) I think the purpose of the flour is to bind the lemon curd and give the texture a more bar-like substance. When I change the flour proportion, I get different texture.
3) In my neighborhood, we have many lemon trees, but a high percentage are meyer lemons. I hate seeing my friend's lemons go to waste, so I'm collecting different lemon dishes. Meyers have a lot of taste, but a very different acid level (lower). In general, I need to up the wet lemon percentage, but with lemon bars I get wet bars. Any suggestions of meyer lemon lemon bars?
4) the best lemon bars, IMHO, have a crust on top. I think I get that by vigorously beating the eggs (Joy of Cooking specifically says "lightly beaten").
Your recipe cards are great. I would love if your descriptions included more "why" because, as an engineer, I always modify the recipe every time I make it. More "why" means I'm more likely to get a positive modification.
Michael -- try the recipe from Joy of Cooking -- it's even easier than Baking Illustrated -- no need to make the curd ahead of time. The only modification I make is to reduce the number of eggs by one -- a little less eggy-tasting. BTW, made the garlic roasted potatoes tonight -- excellent!
Recipes cannot be copyrighted. This is due to the fact that there are only so many ways to make most things, and many recipes truly are passed down, and can't be claimed by one person. A cookbook is copyrighted, therefore you cannot scan it onto your computer and post it on your website, but you can post the recipe itself. Many recipes on popular websites are from copyrighted books and magazines.
>>Recipes cannot be copyrighted.
depends on what you call a "recipe"
actual real live courts - judges and dudes that count - have repeatedly ruled a list of ingredients & quantities cannot be copyrighted.
the descriptions of how to use the ingredients, make the dish, change our socks, whatever, can be copyrighted.
compilation can be copyrighted. a collection a many lists can be copyrighted as a work, but the individual lists & quantities remain uncopyrightable.
According to Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" (2nd ed, I believe) which I'm referring to from my own memory....
The bitter taste from the peel is a water soluble compound. This is why recipes for candied peel call for repeated simmering in fresh sugar syrup - not to increase the sugar content (you could use the old stuff for that) but to eliminate the bitter compound.
I don't know what "Lemon Spice" is exactly; why can't you omit the white? But you could try to soak the white pith in repeated washings of clean water to reduce the bitter compound.
I really love the box concept you did for the recipe instructions. Very very innovative and I will be replicating that for all my recipes I think!
I have a few questions about the recipe (I'm fairly new to baking) -
1) I'm assuming this is true, but just in case, can these bars be frozen easily?
2) If the recipe was being cut in half, would most of the ingredients (those with the largest portions), be simply cut in half?
3) Are there any substitutes you could do to this recipe to make it a bit healthier? For example, whole wheat flour, brown sugar...
1. The bars can be frozen, but texture may be different when thawed.
2. You should be able to cut everything in half, then stick it in an 8x8 pan (which will make slightly thicker lemon bars). Baking time will probably not need to be altered - best to check doneness regularly to make sure.
3. You can make substitutes, but it won't be this recipe anymore. If you want to make this recipe healthier, just eat smaller portions and share it with more people. Free lemon bars is very conducive to making friends.
I have been making lemon bars from a recipe very similar to Cook's Illustrated (from "Rose's Christmas Book") since 1991 and I freeze them them all the time without loss of quality (up to about 6 weeks). In fact, if I am not going to eat them in a day or 2, I always freeze them as that keeps the shortbread crisp. They defrost in a matter of minutes if they are cut small. However, I usually wait to sprinkle the powdered sugar until they are out of the freezer. Otherwise, it seems to be absorbed into the curd and I have to redo it anyway.
This recipe is also in Cook's illustrated "The Best Recipe" and that recipe is the EXACT SAME, with the exception of the amount of unsalted butter. The Best Recipe list the butter at 12 Tablespoons (or 1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter.
Both recipes are from the same company (Cooks Illustrated), so please double check your original recipe. It could be the reason one reviewer said the shortbread was not as buttery as he/she anticipated or was used to.
I edit and test recipes, write them as well...so I notice these things easily.
What's really weird is that after this comment I went and double checked the recipe against The New Best Recipe and Baking Illustrated and the recipe I have posted doesn't match either book. Perhaps I got it from The Best Recipe (the book that preceded The New Best Recipe), but I no longer have a copy of that book.
i love lemon bars and I loved the pictures are very intuitive. thank you
Re the comment above about the difference between this recipe and that of Cook's Illustrated, where it was stated that CI's calls for 12Tbsp butter = 1-1/2 cups, just wanted to clarify that 12 Tbsp butter is actually 1-1/2 sticks = 3/4 cup. So the recipes are the same. :)