Lemon Meringue Bars

lemon meringue bars

The hint of some sunshine again after bouts of moody, rainy weather gave me the inspiration for this summery, citrusy dessert. Everyone loves lemon meringue pie; it’s got the perfect mix of sour, tangy lemon and sweet meringue. So, I thought why not turn it into a bar and make this decadent treat a bit more fun! I have decided to go for an Italian meringue here because I love the cloudy, air-like billowiness of it, and of course the fact that it leaves you with the opportunity to use the blow-torch to finish it off. Of course, you don’t have to torch the meringue, it will still taste delicious, I just love the thrill of it. Being the glutton that I am I sliced these bars up into 12 portions, but that is not to say you couldn’t slice them into smaller pieces to feed more people. They are very rich and a few mouthfuls would be enough for most, but again, I am not most. Hope you enjoy 🙂

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Lemon Meringue Bars

Base and filling adapted from Donna Hay

Makes 12 bars

base

  • 1 cup (220g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 cup (80g) desiccated coconut
  • 2 cups (300g) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 200g unsalted butter, melted

lemon filling

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks, extra
  • 2 cups (440g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • ⅓ cup (50g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 cup (250ml) lemon juice (about 3 medium lemons)

Italian meringue

  • 175 gm caster sugar
  • 2 eggwhites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 60ml water

 

Method: 

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Place the sugar, coconut, flour and butter in a bowl and stir until combined and mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. You can also do this by popping everything in a food processor and pulsing it a few times.

Using the back of a spoon, press the mixture into the base of a lightly greased 20 x 30cm slice tin lined with non-stick baking paper. It’s important to press the base right into the edges and corners of the tin so the lemon filling can’t escape down any gaps.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool completely.

To make the lemon filling, place the eggs and extra egg yolks in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the sugar, flour, lemon rind and lemon juice and whisk until smooth. Carefully pour the filling over the cooked base and bake for 30 minutes or until just set. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Meanwhile, for Italian meringue, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir until sugar dissolves and brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar particles. Increase heat to high and cook until syrup reaches 121C on a sugar thermometer (6-9 minutes). Meanwhile, when syrup reaches 110C, start whisking eggwhites and cream of tartar in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually pour hot syrup over eggwhites in a thin stream, whisking continuously until cooled, thick and glossy (10-12 minutes).

Remove cooled lemon slice from tin and cut into 12 pieces. Transfer meringue to a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle and pipe swirls on top of each piece. Brown with a blowtorch (optional) and serve.

Banana and Walnut Bread

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I feel like banana bread is half the reasons bananas exist. It makes you feel like it’s healthy enough to eat for breakfast because of all that fruit, when we all know deep down it’s more of a dessert but hey, points for trying right? It gives you the perfect reason to use those sad, possibly overripe bananas and turn them into a moist, delicious loaf (made even more delicious when slathered with lashings of butter). Plus, it’s so easy to make that you can get it all together and in the oven within 15 minutes and just sit back and relax while the beautiful banana aromas waft through the house.

This recipe isn’t overly sweet – so if you want to add another ½ cup of sugar be my guest. Also, the addition of walnuts isn’t obligatory, I just added them because I like the texture and crunch it gives the bread but you can replace them with chocolate chips or just omit them entirely. Enjoy 🙂

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Banana Bread

Makes 8 to 10 slices

Ingredients:

  • 250g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 eggs
  • Seeds from ½ vanilla pod
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, banana, spices and vanilla.
  3. Sift dry ingredients and add to wet mixture along with walnuts, being careful not to over mix (over mixing results in a tough cake).
  4. Pour the batter into a non-stick, or lightly greased and floured, 19 x 11cm loaf tin and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the bread is cooked when tested with a skewer.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve in thick slices with butter.

Simple Carrot Cake

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Carrot cake is a perennial favourite. It’s super moist, full of nutty goodness and topped with cream cheese icing…the world’s best type of icing! And the fact that it’s full of carrots makes you feel like you’re being vaguely healthy, right? My grandma used to make this when we my sister and I were little, and although her baking repertoire was not broad (she only really ever baked me this and banana cake) her carrot cake was always a winner. I think this is one of those desserts where everyone has their own recipe that’s been passed down. I remember a while back, a male widower wrote into a newspaper asking if anyone had a good recipe for a carrot cake as his late wife would bake him one as long as he grated the carrots. The response to the article was so overwhelming that the paper decided to have a bake-off to select the best recipe. I remember thinking that it was a such a sweet idea, but it also made me realise that EVERYONE has their own carrot cake variation, so hopefully you will enjoy my version of this classic which does not include sultanas, for those who (like me) can’t stand them 🙂 Izzy

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Simple Carrot Cake

Serves 8

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 2 cups finely grated carrot
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 ¾ cups self raising flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 ½ tbs walnut oil
  • 6 tbs vegetable oil
  • 6 tbs sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

Icing:

  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 125g mascarpone
  • 60g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method: Preheat oven to 180C. Mix together flour, sugar and spices. Make a well in the centre and pour in the eggs and oils. Stir together until just combined and then add in the carrots and walnuts, stirring again until just combined. Pour the batter into a greased 18cm spring form tin and bake for about an hour. It might take a little less or a little more, so be sure to check it using a skewer to see if it comes out clean.

For the icing: beat all the ingredients in a food processor until combined. Ice cake with icing once cake is fully cooled.

Apricot and Blackberry Shortcake

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With the cool, crisp weather we’ve been having lately, my desire for warm, comforting food has only increased. Because to be honest, comfort food is always a winner no matter what the season. For me baking is the ultimate in comfort food. While I love a buttery cupcake, or a creamy cheescake, there is something about fruit and pastry that warms the cockles of your heart. Especially when you make sure it’s sweet, oozy, jammy fruit and rich, crumbly shortcake. Drizzled with some thick cream and you have yourself the perfect winter warmer treat.

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This cake uses apricots and blackberries, but feel free to play around with other stone fruits and berries that are in season, as it is hard to go wrong. Macerating the fruit slightly in the lemon and brown sugar helps it to soften and lets those flavours sink in before they are developed further and intensified in the oven. The addition of clove adds a subtle spice and the almond meal keeps the cake from being too heavy. While this cake has a few steps, each of them is easy and you should be able to get this out of the oven within an hour which is perfect for when those cravings come calling.

 

Apricot and Blackberry Shortcake

Adapted from a recipe by Karen Martini in goodfood.com

Filling

8 large ripe apricots (can used can if not in season)

3 tbsp light brown sugar, plus extra to garnish

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 punnet blackberries (if using frozen, ensure they are thawed first)

1 handful toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Shortcake

150g plain flour

30g cornflour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

100g almond meal

1/2 tsp ground cloves

160g butter, room temp

140g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a 22- to 24-centimetre springform tin.

2. For the filling, slice the apricots in half and pit. Place the halves into a ceramic dish and toss with brown sugar and lemon juice. Allow to sit, cut-side down, for 10 minutes, then bake for 25 minutes or until the apricots are just starting to collapse. Remove apricots and set aside on kitchen paper. If using canned apricots, you can don’t need to bake them, just place them in the lemon juice and sugar mix and leave aside until required.

3. For the shortcake, mix the flour, cornflour, baking powder, almond meal and cloves together.

4. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until pale and light. Beat in the egg, then add the flour mix and thoroughly combine to a thick paste.

5. Scoop two-thirds of the shortcake into the tin and press into base and up sides in the shape of a shallow basin. Place apricots on the dough, cut-side up, scatter over the blackberries, and dab pinches of the remaining shortcake over the top, leaving some fruit showing.

6. Sprinkle some extra brown sugar and the hazelnuts on the shortcake blobs and bake for 30-40 minutes or until light golden. Allow to cool a little before unmoulding and slicing.