This is a favourite bake of mine and one of my top three go-to recipes if I’m baking without the time to experiment. They have a light and fluffy meringue topping with a sticky sweet lemon filling, and a buttery shortbread base with a little bit of bite – and just a hint of ginger. It’s sweet and fluffy, with the sharp citrus tang. How could I not love this?
But, don’t take my word for it, take the word of a cute child. After all, adults can lie and be polite about your baking, but children, they have the pure, unadulterated preferences of ‘ewww, yuk’ and ‘I will eat this forever, until I am sick, and then I will eat more.’
As well as making this into a bar, I make this into little lemon meringue bites, which I made for my friends’ wedding last summer. I don’t quite know why I decided that making 70 of these little things (plus 150 other items of baking) in someone else’s kitchen over 2 days would be a good idea for my sanity, but I did it nonetheless. With the stress levels rising, I managed to drop a large plate of these on the floor (no time for tears, I just got my game face on and made more.. giving yourself a pep talk is essential in this situation.) Most were completely unusable, and although others hadn’t hit the floor, they were still too squished to be servable. So instead, I offered them to the family I was staying with as a lunchtime treat. As well as being lovely and very kind to put up with a mad baker, they had two adorable kids, a wee boy of about 4 and a wee girl of about eighteen months. As soon as the wee girl saw these, she stuck out her hand, high above her head, and made the urgent begging noises that only the smallest of children can make sound adorable. As soon as it was placed in her palm, she devoured it in no time, and was back to the demanding hand gestures, and pleading noises. Another one soon went the same way, double time. It was then explained to her that this would be her last one, no more treats after this. Once it was in her hand, she was the picture of grace and delicacy, making each bite smaller than the last, savouring each moment. With the lemon meringue bite finished, she took to licking her hands, slowly and for a long time, as if gleaning every morsel and memory of the treat.
So there you have it – possibly the highest baking compliment I have ever been paid. Recipe after the jump.
Lemon Meringue Bars Recipe
Source: Baking Bites
250g plain flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest
170g butter or soya spread, chilled and cut into chunks
pinch ginger (optional)
78ml fresh lemon juice
30g plain flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 egg whites
1) Preheat oven to 175C, 160C fan, 350F. Prepare a square tin of about 13 by 13 inches by lining the base and sides with greaseproof paper.
2) To make the crust, place the flour, sugar, ginger and lemon zest in a bowl and whisk briefly. Add in the butter, and cut through with a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture resembles wet sand.
3) Pour the mixture into the tin, and press it in gently with your fingertips. Bake for 20-25 minutes until just firm.
4) Whilst the base is cooking, prepare the filling by placing all the ingredients in a medium bowl and whisking until the mixture is light and fluffy and well mixed through.
5) When the base is ready, pour the filling straight onto it and put back in the oven for 17-20 minutes, until it is set and just turning golden.
6) When the filling is nearly cooked, prepare the meringue. Place the egg whites in a bowl and start whisking with an electric whisk, gradually adding the sugar and salt until the egg whites are thick, glossy and hold soft peaks.
7) Once the filling is cooked, take out of the oven and spoon on the meringue topping, spreading it evenly across the filling. Place back in the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the meringue peaks are just turning brown.
8) Let cool completely before cutting and serving.