The baking bug has hit me again and I am finding that I'm enjoying it more and more. I'm feeling inspired and constantly thinking of recipe ideas in my head again, which feels great. I feel like I am finally getting a bit of 'me' back; which sounds so cheesy but its true.
During pregnancy and that first year of motherhood I was quite rightly completely focused on me being a mum and at the time that felt right, I didn't have the time or mental capacity for hobbies or anything other than being a new Mum. Now that we are entering toddlerhood I am feeling much more relaxed and free to explore other interests and get a bit of myself back. I'm slightly worried that this sounds a bit selfish, I am still obviously very focused on being a Mum, but I am a firm believer in self-care and having time for yourself.
At the must love getting into the kitchen, blasting some music and singing at the tops of my lungs (sorry neighbors). This is usually on a Saturday, so Paul spends some quality Daddy/Daughter time with Zoe. Last weekend I was scouring the recipe books for ideas when Paul suggested 'those lemon things you made that one time' ... Turns out he meant Lemon Bars, which ironically I blogged a recipe for lamenting my lack of time/energy for baking!
I did tweak my recipe a little, as last time I found the base a little sweet and not as crisp as I'd like. I also added a white chocolate topping, which I have to say was a very welcome addition!
Butter, for greasing
Greaseproof paper, for lining
310g caster sugar
Juice of 2 lemons and the zest of 1
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
150g caster sugar
180g unsalted butter, room temp
pinch of salt
200g of your favourite white chocolate - we love the madagascan vanilla Moser Roth from Aldi.
1. Grease and line a shallow baking tin. I grease the tin then lay a strip of greaseproof across the centre, which makes it easier to lift out of the tin - you can grease and line however you prefer though. Preheat the oven to 160C
2. The base is just a simple shortbread, so you want to cream the butter and sugar (around 3 minutes in a stand mixer, longer by hand) and then add the flour/salt. It will come together into a rough dough, it may seem dry or like its not coming together, but you basically want a rubble-y sand type mixture with butter evenly distributed.
3. Press the 'dough' mixture into the baking tin, make sure it is as level as possible, I have two identical baking trays so I lay a sheet of grease proof between and press to flatten evenly, you can do just a good a job with your hands though, it doesn't have to be exact but you'll be pouring a liquid on top so you want it to be evenly distributed.
4. Pop the shortbrad base into the oven for 10-15 minutes, you want it to be starting to brown.
5. While the base is cooking you can prep the filling; start by adding the eggs and sugar into a bowl and whisking until incorporated (it will be thick and gloopy), add the lemon juice and zest, followed by the flour and mix until no lumps remain.
6. Pour the liquid onto the partially cooked shortbread, return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, you want it to be firm (not jiggly in the middle).
7. Allow the shortbread to fully cook before removing from the tin, it is prone to cracking if you're too hasty. You can run a sharp knife around the edges when its warm to help.
8. Once fully cooled, remove from the tin. Melt your chocolate of choice and pour onto the top, spreading into an even layer. I allowed my chocolate to set for 30 minutes and then cut into squares, so it was still slightly soft, this helped avoid any cracked chocolate - once chopped into square I popped them in the fridge to set the chocolate.
The lemon filling sort of soaks into the top of the shortbread and makes for a delicious light and delicate biscuit. The base maintains its crispness, but the middle is a little squidgy, without being too lemon-curdy.
And there you have it, a delightfully light and moreish treat. The dangerous thing about these squares are how not sickly they are, you could literally eat the whole tray! They are definitely a naughty treat, but would be lovely for an afternoon tea or as party food (you could chop into bitesize pieces).
As much as I am loving my reignited passion for baking, I need to start feeling passionate about salad, or my already expanding waistline will be in serious trouble!