Do you have a little old house and a lemon tree?
One of my favourite songs at the moment is ‘Coin Laundry’ by Lisa Mitchell, a very young and very talented Australian singer. The song is the right mix of catchy pop and whimsy, the kind of song you enjoy when it gets stuck in your head. I also love any singer who has tea towels as part of their merchandise, and yes, I was very tempted to buy one at her concert last week, and not just because we share the same name! But I bring up this song not only to share the love, but for the lyric above, which made me want, more than anything, a little old house and a lemon tree. So I could make these lemon bars on brown butter shortbread as often as I wanted.
These little beauties are this month’s recipe from the Tartine Bakery cookbook. It’s hard to believe we’re now nine months into this project, and I’ve got to say, I’ve loved almost every recipe I’ve tried so far (yes, even the brioche). These sunny lemon bars were no exception – a delicious and simple slice that would be just perfect to take to a spring picnic. I’ve been thinking a lot about picnics lately, now that the weather is warming up. It travels well and only needs a liberal dusting of icing sugar, but if you wanted to get really fancy, I imagine that bruleeing the top would be divine.
Before I read through the recipe, I imagined you would have to actually brown butter to make the shortbread, but no – simply bake the crust until it’s a deep golden brown. I was in a bit of a rush at the time so mine wasn’t as golden as it could have been, but it was definitely still delicious. The original recipe also suggested using pine nuts in the shortbread crust also, which I think would make an interesting addition. The lemon filling itself is divine. I liked the balance of flavours – it was a little bit tart but not overly so, though the recipe can be easily tinkered with to suit your own preference.
Don’t forget to check out Mark’s post over the next few days, on his blog No Special Effects
Lemon Bars on Brown Butter Shortbread
Recipe from Tartine
• ½ cup icing sugar
• 1 ½ cups plain flour
• 170g unsalted butter, room temperature
• ½ cup all purpose flour
• 2 ¼ cups sugar
• 1 cup lemon juice
• Zest of 1 small lemon
• 6 large whole eggs
• 1 large egg yolk
• Pinch salt
• Icing sugar, to dust (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a 22 x 30 (9-by-13inch) baking pan with non-stick baking paper.
2. To make the crust, sift the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the flour and stir to mix. Add the butter and beat on low speed until a smooth dough forms.
3. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1.5cm up the sides of the pan. To even out the crst, use the flat bottom of any type of cup and press down firmly.
4. Line the crust with baking paper and fill with pie weights. Bake until it colours evenly to a deep golden brown – 25 to 35 minutes.
5. While the crust is baking, make the filling. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, add the sugar and whisk to combine. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to dissolve the sugar.
6. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks with the salt, and then add to the lemon mixture and whisk until well mixed.
7. When the crust is ready, pull out the oven rack and pour the filling directly into the hot pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C (300°F) and bake until the center of the custard is no longer wobbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.
8. Let cool completely on a wire rack, and then cover and chill completely before cutting. Use a sharp knife to cut into 12 squares and cust with icing sugar if desired. They will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.