I don't know if there is a flavor more distinctly summer than lemon. Sweet, refreshing, and ever so slightly pucker-inducing- it does not get much tastier than that. With that being said, there are very few things more disappointing than a lemon treat that has missed the mark of my very high expectations. When baking with a delicious lemon flavor as your goal, lemon extract and juice from concentrate are not going to cut it. What is going to? Well I'm going to tell you!
First off, start off with a big ole' sack of lemons- we don't half ass anything here. If your recipe calls for the zest of one or two lemons, I'd suggest zesting at least four to get that punchy lemon flavor. Now how to zest them, throw away your zester and grab your potato peeler. No I'm not being crazy, hear me out. With the potato peeler carefully peel off the top-most layer of the lemon peel being careful to not get the white part off the peel (which is bitter). Once you've peeled all of your lemons, take the zest and throw it in a food processor. Once it is relatively fine add in the sugar your recipe calls for and continue to grind it up until you just have itty bitty bits of lemon peel in the sugar.
Now, this method has a couple of advantages. First off, it's faster than the traditional zesting technique. Second, you preserve more of the oil from the lemon peel, which has a whole lot of flavor which is going to translate into whatever you are baking- giving you that luscious lemon bite to whatever you are baking. This method can be used for cakes, cookies, muffins, curds, and creams- essentially anything that you'd want to punch up the flavor of. So, no more lacking lemon treats!