Prep Time 15′
Total Time 35′
Lemon is arguably one of the most popular flavours in the world. From moist lemon drizzle cake to refreshing lemon sorbet, this tangy citrus fruit features in all kinds of delicious dishes. Not to mention, it’s the highlight of this lemon bars recipe! And yet, the route it took to reach our table is still a little unclear.
Experts believe that the earliest citrus trees grew in the regions of Assam, Myanmar, and the Yunnan province of China.(1) From there, they spread through southeast Asia to Australia, and on to the rest of the world.
Studies indicate that modern lemons are a hybrid of sour orange and citron.(2) It’s believed they arrived in Europe through southern Italy in around 200 AD, though they may have looked a little different to the ones we use in our lemon bars recipe today. Christopher Columbus then introduced the fruit to the Americas in 1493.
People prized lemons for not only their taste, but also their appearance, scent, and medicinal properties. In Ancient Rome, the fruit was an expensive status symbol for the elite thanks to its rarity. Hundreds of years later, the British Royal Navy began distributing lemon juice to its sailors to prevent and treat scurvy.(3)
Today, farmers cultivate several varieties of lemons across the world, from Spain to California. The fruit’s refreshing flavour, impressive health benefits, and easy availability have made it a staple in kitchens and restaurants everywhere. Moreover, you can use lemon in aromatherapy to boost your mood, or in skincare to brighten your complexion. All of which means that there’s a lot more you’re able to do with lemons than just make lemonade!
Before we get into the details of this lemon bars recipe, let’s explore the benefits of this zingy fruit.
Although people didn’t realise it at first, the reason lemons are effective against scurvy is that they are high in vitamin C. This plays a key role in strengthening the immune system and collagen formation. The vitamin C and citric acid in lemons also enables us to absorb iron from plant sources more effectively.(4) Its citric acid content could additionally make lemon juice useful in preventing kidney stones.(5)
Furthermore, vitamin C helps to explain why lemon can be such a powerful addition to your skincare routine. As well as being required to make collagen – which keeps your skin supple and hydrated – it’s a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants protect our cells against damage from free radicals, which may cause wrinkles and other signs of ageing. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and antibacterial nature, vitamin C can also be an effective way to treat acne.
Another fantastic excuse to tuck into this lemon bars recipe is that the fruit is good for your heart. There are several reasons for this. First, research shows that the vitamin C and flavonoids in lemons can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.(6) Moreover, the fruit is rich in plant compounds such as hesperidin that may decrease cholesterol levels.(7)
Studies further suggest that other flavonoids lemons contain, like naringin, could be beneficial for weight loss.(8) In addition to benefiting the heart, maintaining a healthy weight reduces your risk of developing numerous chronic diseases.
Finally, some evidence indicates that certain plant compounds in lemons – such as limonoids – may have cancer-fighting properties.(9) However, further investigation is necessary to confirm this.
Now that we’ve explained how healthy lemon bars can be, let’s get into the details of the recipe! The first task is to make the crust. Combine the two flours, coconut sugar, salt, and butter together in a bowl with your hands, until the mixture is sticky and crumbly. Remember, you can switch the all-purpose flour for a variety without gluten if you want to make gluten-free lemon bars.
Transfer the mixture into a cake tin, and press it down with either your fingers or a spatula. The idea is to create a compact crust that will hold its shape when you cut and eat the bars. While it bakes, you can start work on the filling for this lemon bars recipe.
To begin, pop the coconut milk and honey into a saucepan. If you want to make vegan lemon bars, swap the honey for agave nectar or a similar plant-based liquid sweetener. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water, then add this to the mix. The lemon oil, turmeric and vanilla sugar go in next, then you stir until it’s fully combined.
Simmer the liquid on a low to medium heat until it thickens up, becoming almost like a custard. Then turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, mixing it thoroughly. This will result in an even flavour and ensure you get the best lemon bars possible!
Once ready, simply pour the filling over the crust and leave it in the fridge to cool and set. Sprinkle a little coconut flour on top for a finishing touch, then slice into bars. Feel free to make them whatever size and shape you like. All that’s left to do with this lemon bars recipe is pop them on a plate and enjoy!
We get it – turmeric is probably not the most obvious ingredient to include in a recipe for lemon bars! However, we promise there are good reasons for doing so. The first is that our organic turmeric powder adds a gorgeous yellow colour to the filling of the bars. It’s an extra vibrancy that you won’t obtain from the lemon juice and oil alone.
Moreover, turmeric brings a wealth of potential health benefits of its own to this lemon bars recipe. Most of these are thanks to its main active ingredient, curcumin. Like the vitamin C in lemons, it’s a potent antioxidant. Curcumin additionally possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties, helping to protect us against a wide range of chronic conditions like arthritis.(10) Both factors also mean it could play an important role in supporting heart health.
Interestingly, turmeric might have significant benefits for the brain as well. For example, it may help to treat neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s by triggering cell repair and clearing amyloid plaques.(11) Curcumin could further improve memory by boosting levels of a hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which supports neuron health. However, further studies are necessary to clarify this.
Thanks to turmeric, there’s even a chance that tucking into this lemon bars recipe could boost your mood. Evidence indicates that curcumin might be just as effective as Prozac at alleviating the symptoms of depression.(12)
Curcumin may also be useful in the fight against cancer. Studies suggest it can help to prevent the disease, reduce its spread, and contribute to the death of cancer cells.(13) However, we still need further investigation to confirm its potential use in treatments for cancer patients.
You’ll notice that for this lemon bars recipe, we’ve used lemon in two forms: juice and essential oil. As such, you might be wondering if there’s much point in adding the 2-4 drops of oil to the mix. Well, rest assured that while it seems like a small amount, it’s definitely pulling its weight in this dish!
While you're probably familiar with using essential oils in aromatherapy and skincare, harnessing them for culinary purposes is less common. However, thanks to the concentrated nature of essential oil, it’s a wonderful way to add a vibrant note of flavour and scent to your favourite dishes. The oil in this lemon bars recipe makes the filling incomparably citrusy, instantly transporting you to a sunny Mediterranean orchard!
There are a couple of points to bear in mind when using essential oils in recipes. The first is that because they’re quite potent, you really do only need a few drops. The second is that you should choose an essential oil certified as food grade – like our organic lemon essential oil. That means it’s safe for human consumption (in small amounts) as well as therapeutic use.
We craft our lemon essential oil using the finest organic lemons ethically grown on small farms in Calabria, Italy. Our team picks the fruit by hand and then cold presses the peel to release the natural oil inside. Once ready, we pour the essential oil into environmentally friendly amber glass jars to ship out to you at home. Don’t forget to reuse or recycle them once they’re empty!
You can use our essential oil in all sorts of dishes besides this lemon bars recipe. For instance, try adding a few drops to your favourite cocktail or mocktail for a sunny splash of citrus. It also goes well in a morning smoothie, yoghurt, or breakfast bowl. Desserts are another fantastic choice, whether you’re making sorbet, cookies, cakes, or muffins. Ultimately, the only limit is your imagination!
One of the things we love most about lemon essential oil is its positive influence on your mood. Its uplifting fragrance helps to refresh the mind and body, leaving you feeling cheerful and energised. This could be beneficial for times when you want to concentrate and feel alert. Studies indicate it can also be helpful in reducing anxiety and stress.(14)
While munching on this lemon bars recipe is one way to enjoy the scent, there are more effective techniques. As an example, you can mix a few drops with water and use it in a diffuser. This is a wonderful method that fills your home with rejuvenating fragrance. Alternatively, pop some into a hot bath and allow your cares to simply melt away.
Lemon essential oil also offers a wealth of benefits for your skin. It’s bursting with naturally cleansing and antibacterial properties, helping to clear and brighten your complexion. Evidence additionally suggests it could work to purify your pores, plus prevent and treat acne breakouts.(15) Unfortunately, our lemon bars recipe won’t help with this, as you need to apply the oil topically!
To use lemon essential oil for skincare, you must first dilute it. Mix five drops with 10 millilitres of a carrier like almond oil, then softly massage in before bed. Some citrus essential oils can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so only include them in your night-time routine. It’s also wise to try the oil out on a small patch of skin first, to check you’re not allergic.
The sunny vibrancy of lemon makes these sweet treats a natural choice for spring and summer desserts. Although personally, we think you can tuck into them all year round! You’re able to enjoy the bars chilled straight from the fridge or at room temperature. It all depends on what you prefer and what the weather’s doing.
This lemon bars recipe serves nine, which makes it a fantastic option when having guests over or visiting friends. You could even bring a batch into the office if you’re feeling generous! Pro tip: use a sharp knife to ensure a clean cut when slicing them for a photogenic finish.
As you can see from the description above, the baking technique for this dish is simple. That also makes our lemon bars recipe easy to customise. As an example, throw some fresh blueberries into the filling after heating it to create eye-catching lemon blueberry bars. Fresh raspberries work beautifully too. Prefer a little crunch? Break up some walnuts or almonds and stir them into the filling instead.
Whichever version you make, they should last up to a week in the fridge. Having said that, this lemon bars recipe is so delicious, we’ll be surprised if you don’t polish them off sooner!
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