Enjoying a coffee with a friend recently, she tempted me with Lemon Bars, something I had not come across before. One bite and I was hooked. A little like lemon meringue pie, these sweet mouthwatering slices have a buttery shortbread base and a zesty, gooey sponge/custard topping. So, of course, I begged her for the recipe and have since made several variations. Oranges, blood oranges, or limes work equally well. And for an extra special treat, replace some of the liquid in the topping mix with Lemoncello, or Cointreau or similar.
A word about the cooking container. If using a metal baking tin, line with baking parchment or a baking tin paper liner (available at many supermarkets and Lakeland) as the metal can taint the lemon topping. My friend always uses a ceramic or glass oven-proof dish which doesn’t need lining but I would suggest rubbing it very lightly with a minute drop of vegetable oil. You can use a round tin if preferred.
For the biscuit base
175g plain flour
50g ground rice or semolina or ground almonds. Or you can use all flour, in which case you will need 225g
85g golden or white caster sugar
140g cold butter, diced
1 tbsp milk
For the lemon topping
zest of 3 lemons, plus 200ml/7fl oz juice (about 4 lemons)
3 medium-size eggs
200g caster sugar
icing sugar to dust
Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.
Line a metal 8 inch square, shallow baking tin with baking parchment (if using) or lightly oil a ceramic/glass 8 inch ovenproof dish.
In a bowl, mix the lemon juice and eggs, then sieve into a bowl with the sugar, flour and zest and whisk to combine, then set to one side whilst you prepare the crust.
Using a separate bowl, put in the flour, ground rice, sugar and butter and rub in until fine crumbs form.
Stir in the milk with a cutlery knife.
Place the crust crumb into the tin and press down evenly and bake for 15-20 mins until golden.
Remove the tin and lower oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
Immediately stir the egg and lemon mixture and then pour this onto the hot base. It is important that you do not let the cooked base cool down or the lemon topping mixture will cause the base to go soggy.
Bake for 10-20 mins until the top is just set and just starting to turn brown.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with icing sugar and allow to cool in the tin.
When cold, cut into slices and enjoy. These bars are also delicious served with cream or ice cream as a dessert.
Lemon Bars may be kept at room temperature for 1 day, or refrigerated for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. They can also be frozen