I went on a quest to find sour pie cherries in Oregon and ended up picking 4 lbs. of blueberries instead. The PNW got hit hard with an historic heatwave recently. Portland climbed up to 116°F and we are all still recovering. Crops either got fried or the picking seasons shifted, hitting weeks early. Sour cherries are already hard to find here and my plans to pick some from a local farm were foiled by the hot, hot heat. On the plus side, blueberries were ripe for the picking at Bella Organic Farm near Portland on Sauvie Island. So I loaded my basket with bloobs, brought them home and baked up these delightfully summery Blueberry Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Shortbread Bars instead.
The northwest is the greatest place in the world for fresh berries. We really know how to grow ’em out here. When berry season hits, things get vibrant, lush and abundant.
After failing at finding sour cherries, developing these Blueberry Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Shortbread Bars turned my sour puss frown upside down. For this recipe, i riffed a bit off of my old recipe for Red Currant Lemon Crumble Bars. Here I kept the berries fresh, instead of baking them in. These bars are bright, sunny and literally bursting with summer flavors. You can’t help but be happy when these bars are in front you. They’ve got 3 layers of goodness that hit you over the head with happiness.
3 simple components combine into 1 satisfyingly sweet recipe!
- Poppy Seed Shortbread – This shortbread cookie base is a basic mix of a handful of ingredients that blend together in moments. The press-in crust keeps things super simple with flour, butter, sugar, almond extract, poppy seeds and salt.
- Lemon Curd – The zippy lemon curd brings a concentrated brightness to the middle layer. Its zesty, sunny, sweet and stunning. And the perfect complement to the bursting blueberries.
- Fresh Blueberries – Since bloobs are at their peak right now, I didn’t want to manipulate the fruit in any way. The fresh berries just get sprinkled over the top of the lemon curd bars to highlight the freshest summer blueberries.
Don’t let the idea of 3 separate components deter you from these Blueberry Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Shortbread Bars. The poppy seed shortbread crust couldn’t be easier to make. It’s a quick mixer that just get pressed into the pan by hand, then baked.
The lemon curd is the most complicated layer because you need to use a double boiler situation. But I promise, it’s easier than you think. Once you get the hang of the technique, you can experiment with all kinds of curds! Think lime, grapefruit or even rhubarb! So much deliciousness to be had. The blueberry layer is zero work. You literally just sprinkle fresh blueberries over the top of the bars. So that one is a gimme.
The buttery shortbread against the creamy and tart lemon curd is a proportionate play in texture and flavor. The fresh blueberries scream summer, making these snackable bars extra special.
I am a big fan of these Blueberry Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Shortbread Bars because they are rustic and messy. The messier, the better, in my eyes. We aren’t looking for perfection here. Peak season blueberries are already perfect on their own. These bars just provide a beautiful base for them to shine.
Adaptability is the spice of life.
Another bonus about this recipe is that its infinitely adaptable. The fruit swaps alone offer all kinds of options. You can use any berry you like. If you didn’t miss your window on fresh picking cherries, pile up some farm fresh cherries in place of blueberries! You can get creative with your curd flavors too. I use almond extract in the shortbread but vanilla is always an option. Not into poppy seeds, leave them out. Maybe even add some ginger or a few cracks of fresh pink peppercorns to the shortbread to spice things up.
This recipe makes 20 bars, just enough for a picnic or party with friends. But there will be no judgements if you want to just dive in face first, forking bite after bite straight from the source. If you want to get extra fancy with it, whip up some heavy cream for a dollop of whipped cream topping. It somehow elevates the flavors even more. Make these Blueberry Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Shortbread Bars and you’ll see just how shiny and happy you can be!Print
Blueberry Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Shortbread Bars
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 20 bars
These Blueberry Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Shortbread Bars capture summer sunshine in every bite. The buttery, poppy seed shortbread base gets layered in a zippy lemon curd topped with fresh bursting blueberries.
SHORTBREAD POPPY SEED BARS
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter (- at room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 medium lemons – zested & juiced (you'll need 3 TB lemon zest and 6 tablespoons lemon juice)
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 cups fresh blueberries
SHORTBREAD POPPY SEED BARS
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9" x 13" pan with parchment paper or grease the pan with melted butter or cooking spray.
- Whisk the flour, poppy seeds and salt together in a bowl.
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Add the almond extract and mix until just incorporated.
- Reduce the mixer to a low speed and add the dry ingredients. Mix util the dry ingredients are just incorporated, it will come together quickly. You don't want to over-mix, the dough should be crumbly so it's easier to press into the pan.
- Pour the crumbly dough into the prepared pan and evenly distribute over the bottom. Lightly press the dough into the pan until even and smooth. You can use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the dough evenly into the pan. Then bake for 35-ish minutes, until the crust is golden and toasty and just starts to harden.
- Set aside to cool.
- Combine sugar, lemon zest, and egg yolks in a heatproof bowl (or the top of a double boiler) and whisk together immediately; if you delay, the mixture will start to coagulate. Place the bowl over a pan (or the bottom of the double boiler) with about an inch of lightly simmering water and whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves. About 3-5 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and, still whisking continuously, cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the butter and salt, then use a spatula to stir continuously until the mixture is has thickened to the consistency of sour cream, which will happen at about 170° F. This may take up to 15-20 minutes.
- Strain the curd through a fine mesh sieve into a mixing bowl.
*If you won't be using it right away, cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface so the custard doesn't form a skin, and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
- Pour or spoon the lemon curd over the cooled shortbread. Spread and smooth the curd evenly over the shortbread base with a spatula.
- Sprinkle the fresh blueberries evenly over the lemon curd.
- Allow the curd to set at room temperature or in the refrigerator for a least 15-30 minutes. Then use a sharp knife to cut into a 5 x 4 grid for 20 bars.
- Serve with whipped cream if you please. Store in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
This recipe is adapted from the Lemon Crumble Tart in the Grand Central Baking Book. My favorite baking book of all time.
Store bars in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Dessert
Keywords: almond granola bars, Berry Mascarpone Tarts with Almond Shortbread Crust, Blueberry Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Shortbread Bars, lemon bars, shortbread bars