Lemon Alert

I hereby issue a warning to all passing lemons.

I am going through a zesting phase and any lemons within range are likely to be relieved of their outer garments sharpish. Zorro-like, I will unsheath my beloved microplane zester, draw razor-sharp blades across their citrusy skins and have my wicked culinary way with the finely shredded results.

Other citrus fruit, I might add, are also at risk.

Lemon of Zorro

No lemon is safe...

Ah, yes, it’s true that the zing of a little citrus zest has lifted many a meal lately. I think, however, that my zesting habit started with my first attempt at lemon shortbread bars.

There I was, ready for kitchen action, lured by the promise of the most lemony of lemon bars ever. Suffice to say that the author of the recipe should have their license to use superlatives revoked, because the lemon bars were nothing of the kind.

Fortunately, I realised that the situation could be retrieved by means of emergency zesting. A generous sprinkling of lemon shavings on top and at least I now had bars that spoke of lemon, rather than vaguely hinting at it.

Needless to remark, I have been zesting generously ever since.

Redcurrant shortbread bars

Redcurrant shortbread bars with a little inner lemon zest

Many lemons later, the time finally came to return to the scene of the shortbread crime and make a properly tangy shortbread bar.

Rather than go the pure lemon route, however, I looked to my recent harvest of redcurrants, which boast their own particular brand of tartness. They made for a gloriously pink topping but, sharp and all as redcurrants are, they still lacked the oomph I was looking for in my shortbread bars.

One zested lemon later and they had all the oomph they needed.

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Redcurrant Shortbread Bars With Lemon

I made my first batch of these for the recent Dublin Tea Up and they were popular enough that people asked whether the recipe was on the blog (’tis now). While I thought that the first batch was good, the second batch (which I made to coincide with the Irish bloggers Twookieparty) was even better. That is the version you will find below.

And the difference in the second version? Why, more lemon zest of course.

For the shortbread:
  • 150g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 150g plain flour
  • 75g cornmeal
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
For the filling:
  • 250g redcurrants, washed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 4 tblsps plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tblsp lemon zest (zest of about 1 lemon)
  • icing sugar to serve (optional)
You’ll also need:
  • A shallow rectangular baking tin – mine was 27cm x 18cm x 4cm deep – and a sieve for mashing the redcurrants.
The Shortbread Steps:
  • Preheat your oven to 150C.
  • Whisk the flour, cornmeal, ground ginger and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the butter until soft, then add the sugar and continue beating until smooth (or use a food processor or stand mixer to do the beating for you).
  • Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar and mix until it is pebbly and, when pressed, will hold together as a dough
  • Press the mixture into your baking tin and smooth the surface so that it is fairly even.
  • Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until just lightly golden.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes while you make the filling and keep the oven on at 150C.
The Filling Steps:
  • Place the redcurrants in a sieve over a medium-sized bowl and, using a large spoon or spatula, mash them well against the sieve to release their juice – 250g redcurrants should yield around 175ml juice.
  • In a large bowl (or using a stand mixer or food processor) whisk the eggs, then beat in the sugar.
  • Add the flour and salt and whisk until there are no lumps remaining, then whisk in the redcurrant juice and lemon zest.
  • Pour the filling over the shortbread crust and bake for about 15 minutes or until the filling is set and does not jiggle when you tap the baking tin.
  • Allow to cool in the tin and then slice into squares or bars. Sift some icing sugar over the bars just before serving if you like.
The Variations:
  • Though I haven’t tried it, I imagine that you could substitute an equivalent amount of raspberry juice for the redcurrant juice.
The Results:
  • Makes around 54 x 3cm squares

Because this is so pink and lovely, I’m sending this over to that mistress of pink herself, English Mum, who is having a gorgeous Big Bake Off ’round at her place this month.

Comments
  • Huzzah! I love them! I demand that you bake me a load and send them to me forthwith. That is all.

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Daily Spud and English Mum. English Mum said: @greenandblacks WOW Have you seen these? #bigbakeoff http://su.pr/8pcIva [...]

  • I’m with English Mum! Coffee morning at yours with these as the centre piece x

  • Too funny! These look amazing! Definitely going to try them, but likely with a fruit substitute. So far I haven’t found red currants here. My mom never liked zest so it didn’t go into any of our cooking growing up. Now, though, I add it to everything from baked goods to pasta. The flavor is always wonderful!

  • That Zorro-ed lemon made me laugh out loud! The bars look fab too.

  • Red currant and sweet tart lemon in one dessert? Have you can mad? GREG

    PS Ever zested a tater?

  • Beautiful bars! I love lemon zest. Whenever a recipe calls for lemon juice, you can bet I’ll be throwing in some lemon zest too.

  • English Mum: yes, ma’am, I’m on the case :)

    Heather: come on over, would love to have you and E.M. ’round!

    Lori: You’ll just have to try growing redcurrants in that new garden of yours :) Do try them with another fruit though – raspberries would certainly be worth a try and I think pomegranate & passion fruit are good candidates too.

    Kristin: sometimes I don’t know where my inspiration comes from, but I laughed out loud myself when I came up with the Zorro’ed lemon!

    sippitysup: It’s either madness or a glut or redcurrants that has driven me to this – I can’t decide which. And no, I have not zested a tater… yet

    Lea Ann: that’s pretty much the way I feel about lemons myself :)

  • I’d say my microplane is the most-used kitchen utensil I own and I put lemon zest on way too many dishes (but really is there such a thing?). It livens up broiled asparagus, salad dressings and roasted chicken.

    The shortbread looks incredible :) I’m a novice with redcurrant but I’m convinced I will love these…

  • I love the pretty, pink red currant filling! And lemon zest can do no wrong. I tend to always add a little extra too. The mix of lemon zest and red currant sounds great.

  • LOVE the picture. I’m kind of jealous that I never thought to slash a Z in a lemon before.

  • The big daddy zester- Grater has seen my wrath, but I would assume a small plane would only begin to bring tears from the tubers, if you know what I mean…you mean mean lemon assailant! LOL I love the ‘Z’ in the lemon, what a story you have just weaved in my playful, but edgy insane brain!

    Oh girl, how we will laugh together one day!

    The dessert, dreaming of it right now on my buds…

  • Clare: I don’t think there is such a thing as putting lemon zest on too many dishes – I mean to say, do you hear anyone complaining? :)

    lisaiscooking: thanks – I do find that the lemon and redcurrant work well together

    Presley: Hey thanks for stopping by! I’m just amazed that I got this far in life without ever having slashed a Z in a lemon :D

    Chef E: I know exactly what you mean about a zester bringing tears from tubers – I think they do require the attention of altogether, ahem, grater things :)

  • those shortbread bars look heavenly!! and your red currant topping so light and creamy, what a perfect combination of flavors!

  • Move over bacon, I truly believe everything tastes better with a contribution from the zester. These bars sound simply divine and I now have to hunt down some redcurrents. They are not immediately obvious in our neighborhood markets, but I have a feeling it will be well worth the effort.

  • Such pretty bars! Lemon adds such a bright flavor but the husband is mildly peeved when he finds all his citrus (pegged for cocktails) haphazardly zested, looking quite bald and patchy in the fridge. But sacrifices must be made in the name of deliciousness! What a marvelous treat to daydream over on this fine Sunday morn . . . 8-)

  • You are certainly on a redcurrant high at the moment but I am so loving it!! i so love all of your tasty & apart redcurrant recipes!!

    This tasty recipe is surely the BEST!!!!!

    MMMMMMMMM,…many hand waves & kisses from Brussels!

  • the bars are so pretty. love the photos. love the Zorro–very cute!

  • The red currants are at the peak of their season in the UK and I can’t wait to make this gorgeous recipe!

  • Chef Dennis: thanks so much for stopping by – glad you like the look of the shortbread bars, they are pretty little things to be sure, and tasty too :)

    OysterCulture: ah, would that we lived nearer – I could give you all the redcurrants you wanted!

    Tangled Noodle: lol, my fridge is full of bald and patchy lemons – in fact, I have a feeling that contents of our fridges might have other things in common too… :)

    Sophie: *waves back* – hope you had a lovely break and, yes, I am on a bit of a redcurrant kick – I had so many that I had to get creative with them!

    Dina: thanks for dropping by to say so :)

    Alex G: Welcome along and I do hope you enjoy the recipe! Redcurrants have such a short but glorious season – have been trying to make the most of them while they’re around.

  • Well, this post or better, these bars have blown me away. i am a bit speechless. Would you mind if I make it and post it on my portuguese language blog – with all the credit to you. I will need to have something like strawberry as i do not think that we find redcurrants easily at home. will also try some raspberry juice. Only if you do not mind.

  • Oh Valentina, I do not mind at all – I would be honoured if you made these and/or wanted to post about them on your blog. Please do! :)

  • [...] I quite fancy adding a little lemon zest to the end result (though given half the chance, I’d probably add a little lemon zest to almost anything). [...]

  • [...] time last year, I was awash with redcurrants. It was all redcurrant shortbread bars, redcurrant and lemon drizzle cake, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with redcurrants, not to mention [...]

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