Pastry escape: when life gives you confinement, prepare lemon bars
Baking is a great way to relieve stress while on lockdown and these lemon bars are both easy and delicious. Photo / NZH
Something about containment makes me want to cook. It might be the proximity to the kitchen, but it’s more likely a form of stress relief. If you’re lucky enough to have access to lemons (and eggs and flour), these locking lemon bars have to take place. They are easy, use very few ingredients, and taste amazing. The combination of baking therapy and the sugary sweetness that these bars impart is just what you need to get through these uncertain times.
You will need
For the base:
250g softened butter
½ cup of powdered sugar
2 cups of plain flour
½ teaspoon of salt
1 tsp of vanilla extract
For the lemon filling:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
11/2 cups of powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 175C. Line a standard rectangular pan with parchment paper. Tip: A good tip to keep your baking paper in place is to crumple it into a ball, before flattening it in the pan. I also like to add a generous overhang of parchment paper to each side of the pan, as this makes it much easier to lift your slice.
Soften the butter by cutting it into cubes and cooking it in the microwave over very low heat for about 90 seconds. You can also pop the diced butter in the sun for a while.
Combine flour, sugar, vanilla, salt and butter in a large bowl.
Use your hands to massage the butter into the dry ingredients until a nice paste forms, you can also use a food processor for this step.
Press dough into lined pan and place in preheated oven for 18 to 22 minutes, checking often. You want it to be just golden brown.
While your base is doing its work in the oven, prepare your lemon filling. Combine all the topping ingredients and mix well with a whisk until well combined.
Pour the filling mixture over the base of golden shortbread cookies, return to the oven for another 20 minutes. The filling will still be a little wobbly, but it will firm up as it cools.
Remove the slice from the oven, let cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely before cutting into small bars.