As you read this, my family and I shall be basking under the Spanish sun, us adults drinking sangrias and munching on crispy chopitos while the kids frolic around. As idyllic as this is, I wouldn’t be quite at ease knowing I would be away from the blog for a while, an eerie silence descending on it.
So, I have lined up two of the loveliest bloggers, kindred cooking spirits and dear friends, to guest post for me. First to hit the ground running is Jodie of Jo Blogs, Jo Bakes. Her enthusiasm is infectious and it’s her that introduced the wonders of the Pillows of Heaven into my home. Need I say more? Over to you Jo!
Thank you Carrie! It’s so wonderful to be here and I meant it when I said I was honoured to asked to blog for you whilst your on a much needed holiday in the sun. Have a sangria for me babes whilst you’re sunning yourself and munching down tapas dishes filled with Spanish chorizo, no doubt . I promise I’m taking good care of your beautiful blog. Speaking of beautiful – I think anyone who knows Carrie or reads her blog can’t think of it without their imaginations being taken on a whirlwind ride through rivers of striking bright colour, intoxicating with the powerful emotions they (and her writing) convey. Beauty itself. I was very lucky last week to finally meet the equally beautiful Mrs Patterned Plate herself after years of getting to know each other through online foodie forums. She’ll hate me for saying this but she is so much fun to be with, witty, charming with a heart of gold as well as being strikingly beautiful and has big brown almond shaped eyes that even this devoted married lass feels she could drown in if she gazed too long . So, of course, I had to find a recipe filled with firstly colour and secondly big punchy flavours to do justice to the fabulous Mrs PP. And here we go…
Intrigued? Bare with me, for I am getting there! The humble lemon is the subject for today’s blog post – big, fat, knobbly but fragrant and juicy organic wax free ones. And yes, I do think you need to splash the cash on a fancy pants organic citrus here. For we are making a dessert which is lusciously lemony and uses both this ubiquitous citrus fruit’s oily zest and acerbic juice to make a wee square of deliciousness that even this lemon dessert hater (with unfortunately freakishly sensitive skin, hence the CSI gloves in the foreground used to prep my lemons!) has fallen head over heels for.
I’m a girl (and perversely, a dentist!) with a big sweet tooth but normally, anything with chocolate or caramel flavours pulls me in and anything sharp and tangy leaves me cold. Hungry Hubby (my husband) loves a good Madeira cake but I’d pass on that anytime if a chewy choccie cookie is nearby in the biscuit tin! I would, until today that is. For this recipe from the Leon Baking & Puddings book (an excellent read, as are all the Leon books, for any self-proclaimed foodie) has finally ushered me into the lemon camp! Especially as its just child’s play to throw together…
If you have a food processor, the shortbread base takes less than a minute to bring together. If you don’t, rest assured all that is needed is some rubbing in of creamy yellow butter into flour and sugar followed by tipping the crumbs into a baking tin. Press to flatten and bake. Ludicrously easy! I like to use this hand held roller to flatten dough for such recipes but the bottom of a glass or measuring cup could be put to equally good use here
Meanwhile, a brief burst of activity in the form of whisking to combine (not to aerate like meringues or anything so strenuous, you’ll be pleased to hear) the remaining ingredients is all that is needed. Pour this sweet yet sharp topping on the freshly baked base and return to the oven just long enough to do the washing up. If you’re OCD that way like I am . Look how like old fashioned cloudy lemonade it looks. Those of you whom remember the sweets sherbet lemons with nostalgic fondness must make this dessert now!
As with too many home made sweet treats, the hardest part is waiting for the fresh bake to cool long enough to cut into neat-ish slices. And you really do need to wait for this tray bake to cool fully before you get your big chopper out! For the base is a soft, tender, melting shortbread which melds with a just solid lemon curd topping thus forming a treat one is best advised to gobble up with a fork… or perhaps in privacy, licking the gooey lemony delight straight from your sticky fingers. Not that I’d know what that’s like or anything
So there we have it – a wee ray of sunshine to keep us all company whilst the colourfully charismatic Mrs PP suns herself in Spain. Here’s one more gratuitous close up before I go. It’s been fabulous to be here, thanks again Carrie for sharing your exquisite lil corner of cyberspace with lil ol’ me. Mwah, chica xxx
Leon Lemon Squares
Makes 24 cut about 1.5 inches square
280g plain ﬂour plus an extra 35g
80g icing sugar
1 tsp salt
4 free range eggs
120ml fresh lemon juice
1tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp baking powder
Icing sugar to ﬁnish
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C
Line a 30x20cm baking tin with foil or baking parchment
Pop the 280g ﬂour, icing sugar, salt and cubed cool butter in a food processor and pulse until the dough starts coming together in moist clumps OR sift all the dry ingredients for the base together then rub in fridge cold butter with the tips of your ﬁngers. Either way, tip your dough crumbs into your prepared baking tray and ﬂatten with your hand or the base of a glass or measuring cup – it will be less than a 1cm thick at this point.
Bake for 20-25mins or until golden and set, then remove from the oven but leave the heat on as you make the topping
For the topping, simply whisk together the caster sugar, zest and juice, eggs then sift over the ﬂour and baking powder and stir to combine.
Pour this runny batter over the shortbread base and return to the oven, baking for another 25-30 minutes until the topping has set and has no more than a hint of wibble wobble in the centre.
Leave to go cold in the tin then dredge with icing sugar before slicing and serving .
They keep well in a cool place (aka the fridge if you live in Doha!) in an airtight box for three days
Recipe adapted from Leon Baking & Puddings by Ptak & Dimbleby