Ohemgee. If you like lemons, you’ve come to the right place baby. These cheeky little bars pack a lemony punch with a thick lemon curd mixture baked on top of zesty shortbread. They’re like a zingy little pick me up. If you need to spring clean your entire house, just eat one of these and you’ll have the get up and go of a 21 year old.
The name of these bars is a little reference to The Village Baker’s Wife, a cookbook I’ve owned for too many years without making anything from (does that ever happen to anyone else?) – the author recounts getting the inspiration to rename their bakery’s ‘lemon bars’ to lemon lust bars after a visit to England, and seeing sales skyrocket as a result!
I made these for my Mum who is one of the world’s biggest lemon fiends, so I adapted the recipe to be EVER MORE LEMONY. I often find that even recipes that claim to be really lemony or zesty are actually not, so I always ramp up the lemon. I also reduced the amount of sugar in this recipe from 600g to 450g – and it was still really sweet. Don’t be afraid to play around with your recipes!
Recipe adapted from here – I used a 9 x 9 inch square tin – you can use one slightly smaller or larger, your bars will just be slightly taller or shorter!
For the shortbread layer –
- 250 self raising flour
- 80g icing sugar
- pinch salt
- 190g unsalted butter
- zest of one lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp cold water
Start by preheating your oven to 180C/gas 4/350F. Sift together your flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt, and mix in 190g of very soft butter. Stir (or process) until thoroughly incorporated – the mixture will resemble buttery crumbs, and there shouldn’t be any large yellow chunks. Next, mix your vanilla, water, and lemon zest and then add the liquid to the mixture – it will be very crumbly but should start to come together. Press into the bottom of your greased tin, and bake for 15-25 minutes in the middle of your oven, until your shortbread is turning golden brown and has firmed up.
While the shortbread base is baking, let’s make the topping! You’ll need –
- 6 large eggs
- 450g caster sugar
- zest and juice of 4 unwaxed lemons
- 1 tbsp lemon extract (I used Sainsbury’s Sicilian lemon extract)
- 1/2 cup plain flour
Making the topping is so easy – you just whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemony stuff and flour – I adapted the recipe to make it less sweet and more lemony. Once your shortbread is cooked and cooled (important step – let it cool or it may get mushy), pour the topping on top and return to the oven for a further 40-50 minutes at the slightly lower temperature of 150C/GAS 2/300F.
Top with chopped pistaschio’s for a pretty colour contrast – just brush a little hot water on and they’ll stick no problem.