Monday, July 27, 2015

recipe: lemon and thyme bars

I find it interesting how your tastes change as you get older. The twenty-five (ew) year old me lives for the sharpness of lemons, the tang of olives, the acidic taste of white wine, and the bitterness of black coffee; all things that the eighteen year old me would have turned her nose up at. At eighteen, I wouldn't have gone near a gin and tonic with a twist of lemon, last night found my hunting the cupboards because I couldn't find any gin!

It is weird that now I am twenty-five I think that the bittersweet taste of a lemon perfectly sums up summer. It reminds me of drinking cloudy lemonade outside on hot days, of squirting it on fresh cooked fish, and eating lemon ice-lollies.

Anyway, when this unsuspecting little recipe popped up on Pinterest the other week, when we were having that amazingly hot weather, I ran out as quickly as I could and bought a batch of lemons... I did not regret it. 

lemon and thyme bars
lemon and thyme bars
lemon and thyme bars
lemon and thyme bars

For the recipe, keep reading;
I tried making a similar lemon bar a few years ago, and don't think I got quite the right consistency for the lemon layer, but these are just right. The addition of the thyme adds a refreshing flavour that works so well, adding a little zest tinge to the sweet sharpness of the lemon layer.
The recipe looks like a bit of a faff, with it's multiple layers, but really it's quite easy once you get started.
For the crust:
- 227g / 1/2lb. unsalted butter at room temperature
- 225g / 1 cup of golden caster sugar
- 250g / 2 cup of plain flour
- 2 tbsp of fresh thyme, chopped as finely as possible
- 1/4 tsp salt

For the lemon layer:
- 7 large eggs
- 560g / 2.5 cups golden caster sugar
- Finely grated zest from 3 lemons
- 240ml / 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (or, the juice from the 3 lemons)
- 125g / 1 cup self-raising flour

For the glaze:
- 250g / 2 cups icing sugar
- 60ml / 1/4 cup lemon juice/water

1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F, and line a 9x13" baking pan that is about 2 inches tall.
2. To make the crust, cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and well mixed.
3. Combine the flour, chopped thyme and salt, and add to the butter and sugar mixture. Gather into a ball, and chill in fridge for around thirty minutes.
4. When dough has chilled, turn onto a floured worktop and flatten out as best as possible. Press into the baking pan, building up around the edges to create a lip - try and ensure there are no gaps. If the dough becomes too warm to work with, chill again and continue.
5. Prick surface gently with a fork, and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until a light golden brown all over. Allow to cool slightly and do not remove from tin (as some methods suggest)!
6. Whilst the crust is cooling, making the lemon layer by whisking together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, add the flour gradually and whisk well to ensure no lumps.
7. Pour the mixture over the crust, and bake for about 25-30 minutes. When it is done, it will be a light golden brown all over, and the mixture will be set. Tip: if you insert a skewer, it will come out slightly wet, due to the consistency of the mixture!
8. Allow to cool slightly, then carefully remove from the tin and let it cool down completely on a wire-rack.
9. Whilst it cools, make the lemon glaze by mixing the lemon juice into the icing sugar gradually. Add more/less lemon juice to get a runny consistency. Pour over the cooled cake, and allow time to set.
10. Cut into squares - I recommend small pieces, as it is very sweet! Garnish with thyme if so desired.

[Recipe adapted from here.]
These are perfect with a glass of iced-tea or a glass of chilled white wine on the patio. Tip, don't take one to work in your handbag in a plastic bag on the hottest day of the year and forget about it... it might not turn out for the best!

Have you tried lemon bars before? 
- recipes -


lemon and thyme bars
lemon and thyme bars
lemon and thyme bars

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