If life gives you lemons … make old fashioned lemon bars from Jim Fobel’s Old Fashioned Baking Book.
Jim refers to these bars as a real taste of childhood. Well they weren’t a taste of mine, maybe that would have been different had I grown up across the pond – after all Jim Fobel’s book is sub-headed “Recipes from an American Childhood”.
This is a recipe I’ve skipped past many times, thinking it looked a little dull and drab. What a shame. They are a treat indeed.
The only reason I decided to give them a go was the fact that I’d two eggs and some lemons that needed using up that day. My actual intention was to find a blondie recipe or chewy cookie recipe but every time I opened the recipe book it fell to this recipe. It must have been fate.
Having now made and eaten them I don’t think I’d ever be able to tire of them. It is the combination of buttery shortbread and tangy lemon filling that makes them so irresistible. I love how the shortbread crust is all crisp and crumbly and how the lemon filling separates as it bakes. The top has a thin cake-like crust and underneath the lemon filling is all soft and yummy.
Despite being baked in two sections the recipe isn’t complex, labour intensive or time consuming. The ‘eggy’ topping can be made while the base cooks. I was lazy and used a hand held electric whisk to beat the egg and sugar mixture but it would be no hardship to do it by hand really.
I added a dash of lemon oil to the mix as my microplane grater snapped (no blood spilt) when I began to zest the lemons; hence I had very little zest and the tangy oils that would be released are essential to this bake – adding a tidge of oil made sure I didn’t loose out.
When choosing lemons make sure to look for ones that are fragrant with bright yellow skins. They should be firm, plump, and heavy for their size. Try to avoid lemons that have blemishes, soft spots, green spots, or are hard and wrinkled. Lemons consist of a yellow outer rind (zest) that contains the fruit’s oils and perfumes. This outer rind, of varying thickness and graininess, can have either a bumpy or smooth glossy texture, either way this is where most of the zesty flavour is trapped.