I don’t know about you, but when I feel stressed I like to bake, and the banana bread trend on Instagram would suggest that I’m not the only one to feel this way. As the UK entered lockdown, I managed to stave off my baking cravings for a week or so, eventually succumbing and having a mammoth baking day that included Twix cookies, an almond and raspberry Bakewell cake and these delicious lemon bars. I should have had this recipe up on the blog a few weeks ago, but my mind has been elsewhere, better late than never!
Easy peasy lockdown lemon bars
When it comes to stress baking, I like to stick to easy recipes, things that aren’t going to add any more stress into my head, looking around my now quite depleted kitchen, I had two lemons on the turn and so turned to Google for some lemon-based recipe inspiration. I love a lemon drizzle, but with a cake already in the oven, I decided to try a lemon bar recipe instead. I can’t claim all the credit for this recipe as it wasn’t something I simply pulled from the top of my head, I took it from allrecipes, one of my go-to sources for recipe inspiration, but it was simply too good not to share.
For the base of the bars
- 1 cup of butter (cut into small cubes and at room temp)
- ½ cup of sugar (white sugar is best, but golden caster works)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (I had none left so used wholemeal bread flour – which worked!
For the lemon curd topping
- 4 eggs
- 1 ½ cups of white sugar (again white preferably, but cater may work)
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour (once again I used wholemeal)
- 2 lemons, juiced
Optional extras to garnish
- Zest the two lemons you are using for the juice
- Icing sugar
The method for these bars is super easy – like I said, we don’t want any stressful baking here.
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius and grab a 9″ by 13″ cake tin/pan. I didn’t have a cake tin and so used a glass oven dish and it worked just the same. If you want a hand getting the slices out, then place a layer of greaseproof paper along the base and let it come up and over the sides of the pan, when the slices are cool you can then use the paper to lift the slices out.
- Next, you want to get started on the base for your bars. If you have a food processor then put all of the ingredients for the base inside and pulse them until they combine to form something resembling breadcrumbs. I couldn’t be bothered to find my food processor, so I did it the old fashioned way, rubbing the butter into the flour and sugar using the tips of my fingers until I had a breadcrumb textured mix (just as if you were making shortcrust pastry). When combined, simply press the mixture evenly into the bottom of your baking dish/tin/pan and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden around the edges.
- While your base is baking, it’s time to make the topping. Simply whisk the eggs together in a large bowl and then add in your lemon juice, flour and remaining sugar. Whisk together to combine making sure that there are no lumps of flour and that the sugar has dissolved.
- Once your base has finished baking, take it out of the oven and pour the topping mix on top, then put the bars back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes until the topping has set and is firm. Try to resist eating them hot from the pan, and allow them to cool before cutting and demolishing.
- For a bit of pizazz, sprinkle over some icing sugar and some lemon zest.
And there you have it – I’ve found several variations of this recipe online, all of which follow essentially the very same method. If you don’t have lemons, then lime juice works too (you’ll need 4/5 limes), and I bet orange juice would taste great also.
If you don’t have the right size pan or dish, then don’t panic, making a smaller batch will just mean you have a thicker base and a chunkier top, you may need to lower the oven temperature and to bake them for longer so that they cook through the same, but they’ll still taste great. Similarly, if your dish is bigger than 9 X 13, then you will have a thinner base and a thinner top, and so the base and topping will cook a little faster. Use your baking sixth sense and keep an eye on it and it will be fine.
Having finally written up this recipe, I think it’s time I made a new batch – be right back.