These humble bars are packed with lemon flavour. Finish them off with a light dusting of icing sugar. Or pair them with glazed seasonal summer fruit or candied whole cranberries in the winter. This recipe makes a whole lot, so feel free to halve the recipe and cook it in a 9- × 13-inch pan (adjust the cooking times accordingly). Or cut into bars, pack into an airtight container or resealable plastic bags and freeze for up to three months. Yields 36 bars.
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp vanilla paste or 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
5 cups granulated sugar
1/4 c lemon zest
2 cups lemon juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet that has a 1-inch rim with aluminum foil. Spray the baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper. Spray it with another layer of cooking spray. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until well combined. Add the vanilla and beat until well mixed. Add the flour and salt and mix just until combined. Press the shortbread dough evenly into the prepared baking sheet, then prick it all over with a fork. Bake until set and lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Leave the oven on.
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk steadily until the mixture forms a smooth batter. Pour the filling over the hot shortbread base and bake until set, about 30 minutes. (The filling is set when it jiggles like Jell-O.) Allow to cool before cutting into individual bars.
Chef’s Note: Prepare the filling while the shortbread base is cooking.