Lemon Bars
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For the Base

  • 170 g butter
  • 105 g icing sugar
  • 180 g flour

For the Topping

  • 55g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 15 g flour
  • 3 lemons
  • 3 eggs

For the Base

  • 6 oz butter
  • ¾ cup icing sugar
  • 1½ cups flour

For the Topping

  • 2 oz butter
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1½ tbsp flour
  • 3 lemons
  • 3 eggs

Lemon Bars

Very pale and pretty, yet delivering a penetrating citrusy tang, these combine the unctuous appeal of lemon honey with a crisply tender biscuit base. I've given two methods for making them. The first version is simpler to do but the second version gives a more definite textural contrast between base and topping. Both are delicious. Several of the older cookery books have little lemon tartlets - shortcrust pastry cases filled with lemon honey and then baked. A dollop of whipped cream on top was mandatory. But these slim golden bars are less trouble to make and can be served with a pristine dusting of icing sugar - or a more daring drizzle of dark chocolate.

Getting ready

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F/180°C and line a shallow 12 x 8 in/30 x 21 cm tin with baking paper, or grease it lightly. Finely grate the zest of two of the lemons and squeeze the juice of all three.

Mixing and baking

  1. Combine the base ingredients in a food processor, or rub the butter into the dry ingredients and work into a smooth paste with your fingers. It should be fairly soft and malleable. Press the dough evenly into the prepared tin and put in the oven to bake for 15–20 minutes, until it is lightly golden. Don't overcook, as it is going back into the oven later.
  2. Combine the topping ingredients in a bowl, mixing with a fork until well amalgamated. (If you prepare the topping in advance, make sure to mix it again before you pour it on or all the sugar will stay at the bottom of the bowl.)
  3. Pour the mixture onto the hot biscuit base and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Rotate the tray after 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the tray from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool in the tin. Dust the top with sifted icing sugar or wait until it cools and drizzle the top with melted dark chocolate. See page 10 for instructions on melting chocolate.
  5. Cut into bars. Store airtight and preferably in the fridge. Makes 24 bars.

Alternative method

  1. Bake the base for 20–25 minutes until fully cooked and golden brown. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300°F/150°C. Rest the tin on a rack while you make the topping.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, flour and lemon juice and rind in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. Stir until the butter melts and everything is nicely combined. Remove from the heat.
  3. Beat the eggs in a small bowl until they are liquid. Ladle a little of the hot mixture onto the eggs, stirring well, then pour it all back into the double boiler, and return to the heat. Stir over still-simmering water until the mixture thickens and then pour it onto the shortcake base. Return to the oven for 10–15 minutes until the topping is just set.
  4. Cool in the tin, chill and then cut into bars. Makes 24.