Recipe: Sweet Lemon Bars With Biwa (Japanese Apricot)
Let It Bi-Wa!
The sweet-sour taste is absolutely addictive!
Welcome to Savvy Tokyo’s “New Approach to Cuisine” series: our awesome challenge of incorporating traditional Japanese food into our baking and cooking repertoire, all presented to you by yours truly, Amya, aka the Pie Queen.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are plentiful in Japan and so here I am doing what I do best — tweaking recipes to come up with food I truly miss. Today, I’m introducing one very special fruit I’ve only seen in Japan: biwa (びわ). I’d like to refer to biwa as Japanese apricots though the taste is slightly different than the typical apricot you’re probably used to from back home — wherever home is, really! Consider biwa a softer, sweeter, less tart apricot. The formal name of this fruit is loquat, but… since that doesn’t give us much extra information, here they are:
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Biwa is one of the most easily accessible and delicious Japanese summer fruits that can be turned into any fabulous desserts you can think of. I paired it with lemons and couldn’t be happier. The lemon custard is tart, pucker-inducing deliciousness and the biwa adds soft, tangy-sweet goodness. A sure crowd-pleasing addition to your brunch, lunch, tea or dinner.
Here’s how to make yours!
For the crust
This is a shortbread crust. It’s a softer version of shortbread—melt in your mouth, break apart but in the best way—super easy to make.
- ½ c sugar
- ¾ c butter (softened; unsalted or salted)
- 1 ¾ c all purpose flour
Mix together by hand. It will result in a very soft, sticky mess. Pat into a square or rectangular dish (I usually place oven paper down just to make it easier to remove).
For the custard
- ½ c juice of lemon
- 1.5 c sugar
- 3 eggs
- ½ c all purpose flour
- Add the sugar and eggs together and mix until sugar is dissolved.
- Add in the juice.
- Add the flour. This part is important. DON’T mix the flour into the custard in a circular motion. This won’t dissolve the flour and you’ll get lumps. Instead, move the flour into the mixture in a quick up-and-down motion until the flour is completely dissolved.
- Slice seven biwa vertically and remove the seeds and the membrane underneath the seeds. Remove the skin from the top.
- Pour the lemon custard mixture onto the crust and bake at 180C (or 360F) for 25 minutes.
- Take it out of the oven and let it sit for an hour.
- Cut into 4cm squares. The lemon custard should ooze just a bit. Place on sliced biwa on top and serve. This should be eaten right away, as biwa doesn’t keep well overnight at room temperature or in a fridge.
But don’t worry much — there won’t be any left!