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Lemon Bars

With deliciously smooth and zingy lemon curd and a melt-in-the-mouth lemon shortbread base, these easy lemon bars are a great, simple make-ahead dessert!
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Dessert, Snack
Servings 24 bars


  • 12" x 9" traybake pan
  • Hand mixer or stand mixer


Shortbread Base

  • 250 g plain flour sifted
  • 50 g cornflour sifted
  • 1/2 tsp salt level
  • 210 g unsalted block butter cubed and just slightly softened. Don't use spreadable-type butter as this will make the dough too wet and soft to handle
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 50 g light brown sugar
  • zest of 1 medium lemon

Lemon Curd Filling

  • 30 g plain flour sifted
  • 250 g caster sugar sifted
  • 5 medium egg yolks room temperature
  • 2 medium whole eggs room temperature
  • Zest of 3 medium lemons
  • 140 ml fresh lemon juice about 4 medium lemons


Shortbread Base

  • Preheat your oven to 160°/140° fan.
  • Line your 12” x 9” traybake tin with baking or parchment paper. Leave some overhang of paper; this will make it much easier to lift it out of the tin and slice later once baked.
  • Measure the plain flour, cornflour and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk until combined and then set aside.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl if using an electric hand whisk), beat the butter, zest of 1 lemon and both sugars on medium speed for a full 2 minutes. It will look smooth and slightly paler in colour.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  • Pour the dry ingredients into the large bowl and beat on lowest setting until just combined – it’s very important not to over-mix here or your shortbread will end up tough and dry.
  • Pour the shortbread dough into your lined 12” x 9” traybake tin
  • Press the shortbread dough out with your hands and fingers, trying to make it as flat and even as possible.
  • I then use a small fondant rolling pin to smooth it out a little more. You could also use something like a small cylindrical glass
  • Using a fork, poke holes across the whole shortbread dough. This will help the lemon curd bind to the shortbread later.
  • Place the traybake tin into your preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes until it looks slightly golden in colour.

Lemon Curd Filling

  • Make the lemon curd filling while the shortbread is baking.
  • Sieve the plain flour and caster sugar into a medium-sized bowl to remove any lumps.
  • Whisk the flour and sugar together until combined.
  • Lightly beat your egg yolks and whole eggs in a small bowl and add these, along with the lemon juice and lemon zest, to the flour and sugar mixture.
  • Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth and combined. Try not to over-whisk as this will lead to more bubbles forming on the surface of your baked lemon bars. Some bubbles appearing on the surface is normal.
  • Once the shortbread is baked and removed from the oven, pour this lemon curd mixture on top of the shortbread. Don’t worry if the shortbread is warm, this is ok.
  • Place the traybake tin back into your oven (on the same temperature) for a further 20 minutes to bake the lemon curd topping.
  • You will know it is done baking when the lemon curd appears firm with the slightest wobble in the centre (you can check this by gently nudging your traybake tin). The edges of the lemon curd topping will also look ever so slightly browned. If any of the mixture looks runny at all, continue baking for a few more minutes before checking again.
  • The lemon bars will set and firm up more as they cool.
  • Place the traybake tin on a wire rack to cool, and you can place the slightly cooled tray in your fridge to finish cooling and firm up. I find the bars easier to cut when chilled.
  • When the bars are cooled and completely set, carefully lift out of the traybake tin using the overhang of baking/parchment paper as handles.
  • Place on your countertop ready to slice into squares.
  • Using a sharp, damp, warm knife (run the knife under warm water then pat dry so it’s damp, not wet), cut the bars into equal squares (I cut them into 24 squares). Clean the knife between cutting each slice to get clean, neat slices.
  • Dust the sliced bars with icing sugar to finish. This finishes them off perfectly I think, plus it helps cover up the little air bubbles which form on the surface.
  • Lemon bars need to be stored in the fridge if not serving immediately as the filling is a custard so needs to be kept refrigerated. They can be served cold from the fridge or at room temperature. Best eaten within 5 days.
  • They also freeze well when stored in an airtight container with layers of baking/parchment paper between if stored in several layers. This will prevent them sticking together.


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