There are not many recipes in this blog that have been tried and tested as many times as these easy lemon shortbread bars. It is one of the recipes that I have brought back from the UK. I make it very often, mainly as presents for other people and I always get good feedback. I cannot wait to show you how to make these lemon shortbread bars.
It does reinforce the old saying “you don’t know what you miss until it is gone”, because in England I never made shortbread. It did not cross my mind. Perhaps because I was surrounded by shortbread and scones and I was yearning more for red wine cake and German waffles.
Why is shortbread called shortbread?
What makes shortbread “short” is the coarse, crumbly texture that is achieved by combining the butter and sugar. The process of making the dough is called shortening, adding the butter or in fact any fat to the dough. This lemon shortbread is made with cornflour that will give it the famous “melt in our mouth” shortbread texture.
About this Easy Lemon Shortbread recipe
This recipe is really easy and undemanding. It does not require any fancy kitchen equipment and is almost completely made of pantry ingredients.
I say “almost” because I managed to add a little extra to this recipe since I arrived in Germany. A little lemon aroma tube from Dr Oetker which is quite common in German supermarkets. You can get it online as well, or just use the Dr Oetker Sicilian Lemon Natural Extract from a UK Supermarket ( I know Tesco sells it) (affiliate links)
If you like to keep it organic, you can simply add finely grated lemon zest to the dough (make sure the lemon is organic).. I found however that the addition of artificial flavouring makes the lemon taste more intense.
You may not need any fancy kitchen equipment for this recipe, but it is good if you bring “cold hands”. Whenever I meet someone with cold hands I tell him that they have perfect “pastry hands”. (People are not sure if it’s a compliment or not!) The shortbread mix prefers all things chilled. From the room temperature to the kitchen surface, to your hands.
For this reason, some recipes suggest using a food processor to crumble the dough. I have never had success with this method, as it loses its crumbliness. Also, it’s more to wash up. I remember making this recipe in summer at 30 degrees. The dough was getting very sticky. If this happens to you, just put the dough back in the fridge for 15 minutes to harden it up again.
I used a 9 inch (20 cm) square cake pan to make this bar, but you can also use an 8 inch (18 cm) round cake pan..(affiliate links)
How to store lemon shortbread bars?
The great thing about shortbread is that it stores very well. For this reason, I choose this recipe when preparing gifts to send my family by post. Just make sure you store it in an airtight container, as oxygen turns the butter rancid. It should last up to 6 weeks in a cool (not a fridge) dry place.
Can you freeze lemon shortbread?
The recipe freezes also very well up to 3 months. Defrost them by placing them on a rack individually and consume within 5 days.
Shortbread as wedding favours?
One of the great memories I have from England is the wedding of my good friends Claire and Martin. They baked shortbreads in advance, personalising them by stamping their initials on the cookies. They froze the shortbread cookies, defrosted them before the wedding, and gave them to the wedding guests as gifts. The next day I enjoyed these delicious treats while walking in the Malvern Hills.
Shortbread Recipe alternatives?
If you enjoy the soft buttery taste - why not try Heidesand, a German butter cookie?
Easy Lemon Shortbread Bars
- 9 inch or 20 x 20 quare baking pan
- alternativley use a 9 inch round cake dish.
- 260 g plain flour 2 1/8 cups
- 60 g caster sugar 1/2 cup
- 40 g cornflour 1/3 cup
- 1 pinch salt
- 200 g unsalted, chilled butter 3/4 cup and 2 tbsp
One of the three options
- 1 tube lemon aroma Dr Oetker Lemon Aroma
- 1 tsp lemon essence /flavouring
- 1 finely grated zest of one lemon
- extra sugar for sprinkling
- Icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/ Gas 4
- Put the flour, sugar, cornflour, salt and lemon flavour (which ever you are using) into a mixing bowl. Stir well to thoroughly combine.
- Add the butter and rub into the dry ingredients, using the tips of your fingers. Rub until the mixture resembles fine sandy crumbs. Then tip it into the prepared tin. Press the mixture into an even layer, using the back of a spoon.
- Bake for around 25 minutes, until just firm.
- Remove from the oven, sprinkle with sugar. Cut into squares with a very sharp knife, while the cake is still warm. (after it might get to crumbly and break while cutting.
- Leave to cool before removing from the tin.