Lemon Shortbread Crumble Bars

Photo Credit: Willow Bird Baking

Lemon Shortbread Crumble Bars are a tart and tangy blend of lemon contrasted against the smooth and creamier flavor of shortbread. This shortbread recipe calls for a particular kind of butter, known as plus gras, a French term meaning, more fat. This type of butter has a butter fat content that can run as high as 89 percent, up to nine percent higher than ordinary butter. Ordinary butter (salted or unsalted) has a fat content that runs about 80 percent. In some countries, these amounts of fat are regulated, and strictly enforced. The butter called for in this shortbread recipe is a brand name that plays on the term, plus gras, calling itself plugra (which is simply a fabricated name for that specific butter product). This higher fat butter does have a different texture than regular butter and is a fun product to try, at least once. In certain breads, particularly vienoisseries, plus gras butter is really a must, although, in commercial productions, it is rarely used. Plus gras butter is more difficult to work with, harder to obtain, and usually quite a bit more expensive. As such, it is often not even available in grocery stores, or if it is, the cost can be even double. Of course, in high volume areas, where the population might warrant it, the butter is cheaper and much more readily available.

So this recipe calls for that special butter, and given that it is fun to experiment with plus gras butter, why not try it. If you cannot find it at your local grocery store (possibly in the frozen foods section, by the way) in this particular recipe, you will be fine using ordinary butter. This shortbread recipe blends a shortbread crust with a lemon top. That is a lovely combination of flavors. Shortbread is one of the oldest cookies around, and generally follows one of two methods of baking. The first one is the classic English method that combines white sugar and loads of butter with finely ground flour. The second is the Irish and Scottish version, which exchanges brown sugar for the white sugar, thus creating a quite different and equally delicious cookie. They are both also cooked differently, with the English version following the usual round cookie shape, whereas the Scottish version is often cut in rectangles or sometimes, in pie shapes. Either way, both versions are delicious. Here, the English version is used.

The shortbread recipe is topped with a blend made from cream cheese and lemon juice. Try to use fresh squeezed lemon juice, which tastes much richer and tangier than any commercial variety. It will also provide a great texture contrast to the smooth filling and cookie base. Enjoy this bar soon.

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