A fun and zesty twist on a British classic. Vegan Lemon Bakewell Bars with a lemon pastry, homemade lemon curd, almond frangipane topped with a layer of sweet lemon icing. They’re a deliciously soft and gooey lemon & almond bar – perfect for Summer picnics!
What is a Bakewell bar?
If you’re from the UK, I’m sure you’ve come across a Bakewell tart at least once in a bakery or cafe. They’re an extremely British dessert and can be found literally everywhere – haha! They consist of a buttery and tender shortcrust pastry with a filling of raspberry jam, frangipane, and toasted almonds.
This is a bakewell slice recipe with a zesty, lemony twist. Delicious vegan lemon curd is used as the ‘jam’ layer, and there’s lemon zest in both the buttery pastry, frangipane and icing. You could call these ‘triple lemon bakewell bars’.
If you think a 4 layered dessert is hard to make, think again! I have designed my bars to be easy to make and simple to follow, and it all starts off with a buttery shortbread layer.
Lemon curd: To give these bars the most delicious lemon flavour you’ll want to use lemon curd. This is in replacement of the jam usually found in a classic cherry bakewell. The curd is sweet, sharp and pairs beautifully with the almond flavour profile.
Shortbread: A 4 ingredient shortbread which takes minutes to make and only 20 minutes to bake. It melts in your mouth, with fresh lemon zest inside and is the perfect base for these bars.
Frangipane: This frangipane is THE BEST EVER vegan frangipane you’ll ever try (as i’ve been told by everyone who has been lucky enough to sample my bars!). You could trick your friends by thinking they’re from a fancy patisserie, thats truly how good i think the frangipane and bakewell slices are! The frangipane can be made in one bowl and takes minutes to whip together.
Icing + decoration: Cherry bakewell’s are traditionally topped with smooth icing and a glaće cherry – but for this lemon twist I topped off my bars with lemon icing and a beautiful yellow feathered design. It’s simple but effective.
Ingredients you’ll need:
Considering this recipe features 4 layers from base to icing, they are actually pretty easy to make! The ingredients are basic and you probably already have the majority in your kitchen cupboards already. You can find the full written recipe, ingredients list and method in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Plain flour / all purpose flour : As it’s shortbread, it doesn’t need any raising agents like self raising flour, plain works perfectly!
Caster sugar : Helps to bind and adds sweetness.
Lemons : Make sure to use un-waxed lemons for this recipe as you’ll be using the juice AND zest!
Dairy-free block butter : Use chilled vegan block butter. My favourite vegan butters are Naturli Vegan Block and Flora Plant Alternative Butter.
Coconut cream: Use the thick white cream from a can of coconut milk. See notes for more details.
Cornflour / cornstarch: Helps to thicken the lemon curd.
Yellow food gel : Great for decorating the bars with the feathered icing effect.
Turmeric : Natural colour for the lemon curd.
Almond extract: Add a splash for a subtle almond flavour. Pairs beautifully with fresh lemon.
Coconut oil : Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan before using.
Dairy-free milk : You can use any dairy-free milk for this recipe including oat, soya, almond or cashew.
Baking powder: Helps to add rise to the frangipane, and adds a delicate crumb.
Ground almonds : Adds texture and structure to the frangipane. Use really fine ground almonds for this if you can find them.
Icing sugar : For the lemon icing.
Aquafaba : You can use water for the icing, but aquafaba helps the icing to set firm, so its not as messy when the bars are cut and served.
Flaked almonds: Optional but are sprinkled over the frangipane before baking, adds a delicious crisp texture.
If you make, and love this recipe, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating below. Thank you & happy baking! Make sure to tag me in your photos on Instagram and Facebook! And if you want to pin this recipe for later, you can use the button on the recipe card, above or below this post, or on any of the photos. Happy baking all!
Preheat oven to 180℃ fan and line an 8 x 8 inch square / loose base tin with greaseproof paper. Allow the paper to hang over the edges of the tin, this makes it easier for removing the lemon bakewell when ready.
Sift the flour, sugar and lemon zest into a medium sized mixing bowl.
Add in the cold butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until a crumbly dough forms.
Crumble the dough into the base of the lined tin and press down with your hands or an off-set spatula. Tip: Dust your fingers with flour, it prevents the dough from sticking.
Place into the middle of the oven and bake for 18 minutes or until light and golden in colour.
Remove the shortbread from the oven, set aside while you make the lemon curd.
Method (lemon curd)
Drain the clear liquid from a can of coconut milk, as you only want to use the thick white cream. Add all of the lemon curd ingredients into a medium sized saucepan. Stir to combine.
Heat over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens (this will take around 5 minutes). Stirring with a heat proof spatula or whisk will prevent any sticking and burning, and will remove any clumps.
Once the mixture is thick and glossy, remove from the heat and immediately pour over the base. Spread it out into an even layer with the back of a spoon or off set spatula.
Place the tin back into the middle of the oven and bake for a further 5-8 minutes or until the lemon curd develops a skin on top, then remove from the oven and set aside while you make the frangipane.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the caster sugar and melted coconut oil until combined.
Add in the flour, milk, cornflour/cornstarch , lemon juice, almond extract and baking powder. Mix to combine.
Fold in the ground almonds until fully incorporated.
Spread the frangipane over the tray bake and level out with a spoon or off set spatula. Sprinkle some flaked almonds over the top before baking (optional).
Place back into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown in colour and the filling has set. If the frangipane looks like its burning at any time, remove from the oven and cover with some foil until the middle has baked.
Once baked, remove them from the oven, allow to cool fully in the tin at room temperature before icing.
In a small bowl, mix together the icing sugar, aquafaba and lemon juice. You want the consistency to be that of toothpaste – not too thick, not too thin. If it’s too thick, it’ll take ages to dry, if it’s too thin, it will be transparent and won’t dry.
Remove a tablespoons worth of icing and add it into a separate bowl, colour with yellow food gel. Transfer this into a piping bag and snip off the tip.
Pour the white icing over the traybake and spread out into an even layer.
Pipe the yellow icing in lines down the tray bake, about 1cm apart. Using a cocktail stick or skewer, drag through the icing chocolate in opposite directions across the traybake to give a feathered effect (watch the video tutorial here).
Allow this to set either in the fridge or at room temperature.
Use a sharp knife to cut the tray bake into squares / bars. Serve and enjoy!
To store: Keep the bars stored in the fridge in a sealed container to retain the moisture. Best enjoyed within 4 days of making, however I recommend enjoying these on the day / within 2 of making!
How to use coconut cream : Chill a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, open it upside down (the liquid will be at the top and cream at the bottom of the can). Pour away the liquid and only use the thick, white cream.