While lemons may not be one of the seven species we celebrate on Tu Bishvat, they’re still a fruit, and right now they are on the trees in abundance. My tree is heavy with the most fragrant lemons, and when they’re ripe, I love making desserts with them.
Here’s one for lemon squares that I’ve been making for years. It comes from the late Lee Bailey’s book “Country Desserts“, which I absolutely love. The book is an amazing resource for dessert recipes that are easy to follow and simply don’t fail. And my favorite part of this book is that the author has photographed each dessert without any styling and as a result, he shows honest and real desserts that don’t intimidate, and sometimes even look a little wonky because that’s how they came out. I love it!
So back to the lemon squares. This is a recipe that you will almost always be able to make without having to pop out to the supermarket because the ingredients are simple. There are two stages to making this recipe, but both are easy, and the result is a light and more-ish sweet, tart bar that you will want to make again the next day because, as soon as you serve them, there will be none left. They don’t look like the most glamorous baked good you’ll ever see, in fact the first time you bake them you may be a little disappointed when they are done as they aren’t pretty, but the taste is sensational.
1 cup softened butter
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
½ cup powdered or caster sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
Grated rind of 1 large lemon
6 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups chopped walnuts
How to do it
1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (325°F)
2. Grease a 22x33cm (9×13 inch) pan, or line with baking paper and spray with non-stick spray.
3. In a mixer, beat together the softened butter, 2 cups of flour and powdered/caster sugar until you have a light dough. Place the dough into the pan and press it over the bottom into all the corners until you have an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes.
4. While the base is baking, beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy and light yellow. Add the lemon rind and juice and mix. Add the tablespoon of flour and baking powder and mix. Then add the nuts and combine. (I process the nuts in a food processor as my kids don’t like big chunks – this way they give the flavor and texture but aren’t very intrusive.)
5. Pour the lemon mixture over the baked crust, return to the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until the filling is set. The top will turn a golden brown color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting into squares.
Makes about 24 squares.