Lemon Squares

Last Saturday was our villages’ Annual Yard Sale.  This is usually held in the morning on the first Saturday of July and is well attended.  It is the fourth or fifth year running that it has happened and everyone has a clear out of their cupboards, earning a few bob as well as raising money for the Village Hall and the church funds.  However, this year the Yard Sale was put on the same day as lots of other events taking place in neighbouring villages.  It was in the afternoon and also poorly advertised.  This really annoyed us as hardly anyone turned up compared to previous years.  In spite of this though, my hubby managed to sell my son’s old bike which he had grown out of.  We  also sold some pictures, a few books and I even managed to get rid of a pair of Birkenstocks I had hardly worn!

I had completely sold out in previous years when I baked flapjacks and cookies to sell for customers to eat while they were wandering around.  I decided to do the same again this year.  I baked my usual Smartie and chocolate chip cookies as well as some flapjacks.  I get fed up of baking the same things over and over again though, so I wanted to test out something new.

One of a series of mini Leon books- this is Brownies, Bars and Muffins.

The other week I had found some cute little Leon books in Waterstones.  I’ve never eaten at Leon before, as I don’t get down to London all that often. Having said that  I do remember seeing  one on Kings’ Cross station, it looked like a kiosk though, rather than a restaurant. I didn’t try anything from it  though as we had already been next door to eat on St Pancras station. I know people have talked about the Leon cookbooks and have said how great they are. Being a bit obsessed by baking books I treated myself to “Brownies, Bars and Muffins” when I was looking in Waterstones a few weeks back.

Upon looking through the introduction it says “this is a book that lets you have your cake and eat it!”  I totally buy into that one!  The recipes are designed “to taste good and to do you good too”.  My mouth started to water at all the delicious brownies and bars beautifully photographed and the recipes were easy to read and follow.

I found a recipe on page 24 that I had wanted to try for a while.  Lemon Bars are made with a gorgeous shortbread base and topped with a tangy lemon mixture.  They have to be made in two stages, first the shortbread is baked in the oven then slightly cooled. Then you add the lemon topping to bake for a little longer.  After this has cooled down, we then dust the bars with icing sugar and cut into bars.  I chose to cut mine into squares.

Looking at the recipe, it called for some fresh lemon juice “preferably Meyer or Amalfi if possible”   Now on reading this I couldn’t understand whether this was a variety of lemon or whether it was a brand of shop bought lemon juice.  I had two lemons in my fruit bowl but I couldn’t tell what variety they were. I’d just picked them up off the shelf in Morrisons!  I just squeezed the lemon juice out of them but it didn’t make 120ml even though I squeezed every last drop out of it.  I ended up adding the shortfall with some Jif lemon out of my baking cupboard!  The other ingredient was to add 1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon zest.  I felt that this wasn’t enough to create a lemony hit for me but I like to follow the recipe to the letter first and then tweak it to my taste afterwards.

Lemon Squares baked for my village's Yard Sale
Lemon Squares baked for my village’s Yard Sale

The lemon squares baked beautifully although I felt the shortbread was a bit too dark for my liking.  They cut easily and I got a good reaction from them.  I personally didn’t find them sharp and lemony enough for my liking. Next time I will add the zest from one or two of the lemons, not just half a teaspoonful.  They are perfect for a fundraiser or even as a treat for a summer’s day.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

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