The Sassy Pair

Everyone has heard of lemon bars, but very few people have heard of grapefruit bars. It’s not a crazy idea. It’s certainly a delicious idea, though. Take a delicate, melt-in-your-mouth crust, and put a sweet grapefruit filling into it. These bars come together in less than an hour and disappear even quicker!

Let’s talk about what happened when I made these. The first thing that went wrong was the crust didn’t look right when I pulled it out of the oven. It was bubbling, and typically I don’t think a shortbread crust should bubble. The second thing happened while I was cleaning my kitchen, after putting the bars in to bake. I noticed the flour container was still on my counter. I usually put ingredients away as I use them so I was a bit confused by this.

And then I panicked. I forgot to put the flour into the filling.

Recovering from a Mistake

Everyone makes mistakes – cue Hannah Montana. But really, it’s okay to make mistakes because there’s no way to learn without trying. The first thing you should do when you realize you made a mistake is stop and think. Is the mistake critical? Can you recover from it?

In my case – forgetting to add the flour – was a critical mistake. I knew the filling wouldn’t set if there wasn’t any flour. Could I recover? Yes, after about five seconds of freaking out, I stopped and thought what my options were. Luckily I was only five minutes into the baking time. I took the bars out of the oven and poured the hot filling into a bowl. Added the flour and poured it back over the crust.

Mise en Place

Everything in its place. Boy did I learn something from this recipe. If I had measured out my ingredients and had them ready to go, this snafu probably wouldn’t have happened. In baking it’s really really important to not forget things. By measuring everything beforehand and placing on your work station, it’s really really difficult to forget something.

So the next time you decide to make something (which should be these bars, this week), try and measure everything before you begin. You’ll be more organized, less stressed, and more confident. Baking isn’t difficult but it definitely is like science. You wouldn’t expect a chemist to “just forget” a key ingredient when making a solution. We should take the same approach when baking.


  • Crust
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tbsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • Filling
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 grapefruit, zested
  • 1/4 cup grapefruit juice
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Use two pieces of parchment paper to line an 8x8 baking pan, letting the excess hang over the sides. The pieces should lay in opposite direction of each other to create "handles" to easily lift the bars when done.
  • To make the curst: use an electric mixer to beat the sugar and butter together. Add the flour and mix until crumbly. Press into prepared pan. Bake until lightly brown, about 15 minutes.
  • While crust is cooling, make the filling. In a medium bowl, whisk egg and sugar until slightly thick, about one minute. Add flour, grapefruit zest and juice. Whisk well until combined. Pour over warm crust.
  • Bake until top is slightly brown and filling no longer jiggles, about 18-20 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
  • Lift out of pan using parchment handles. Cut into 16 squares, and dust lightly with powdered sugar.


Makes 16 bars. Store in an airtight container, with parchment paper between layers to avoid sticking. Bars keep two days but are best fresh.

Recipe adapted from smitten kitchen and Food52.

I added mint to my bars, which is why there is mint in the pictures. I couldn’t detect any of it so I decided to leave it out of the recipe.

View more articles written by Vasili.

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