My grandfather died almost exactly a year ago. Up until nearly the last day, I thought he was invincible. He had been 90 the previous year and my grandparents had celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with a series of parties for friends and family. My grandmother hasn't come to terms with his death yet - in a way, none of us have - and this, together with her own worsening health, has meant that the decision has been taken to move her into a home where she can get the care that she needs. It's all pretty awful but by no means a unique situation and we were lucky to have so many happy years with them both.
The house, where they lived for the last 20 years of their marriage, is now going to be sold. I volunteered to help my dad start the long process of clearing out the rubbish and preparing it for sale.
I still find it strange when we drive up to the house and let ourselves in. For a moment, I expect my grandfather to throw open the front door and to envelop me in his arms, filling my senses with the familiar smell of his cologne.
There are still touches of him everyone. An inveterate hoarder and record keeper, the Christmas cards from every year were piled neatly, in chronological order, in the desk drawers. Next to his bed were the diaries he kept in which he noted down the weather of every day since he retired. He loved the trivial details of life. He would often ring my dad to congratulate him on a long-forgotten anniversary - the purchase of a car that has long since been turned into scrap metal or a return from a holiday that is now just a hazy memory for us.
These aren't too tart - and for that, you have a copious amount of sugar to thank, do not be fooled into thinking that this is a particularly healthy treat - but the lemon really sings here. It makes you feel alive. It makes you feel grateful.
The recipe is from the summer edition of the Donna Hay magazine which I happened upon in my local newsagents. It's just beautiful. I want to make nearly every recipe in it. For whatever reason, and my top suspect is the gluten free flour that I used, my lemon filling did not set as well as the pictures suggested it should. But no matter, this is a sticky, sweet, and sharp treat of a slice.
Lemon and coconut slice
From the Donna Hay magazine
For the base:
185g plain flour*
60g dessicated coconut
110g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g cold unsalted butter, chopped
For the filling:
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
440g caster sugar
50g plain flour
1 tbsp lemon zest
250ml lemon juice
Icing sugar, to decorate
1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line a 20x30m square tin with parchment paper and grease well.
2. Either combine all the ingredients for the base in a food processor or, if you don't own any fancy equipment, use you hands to rub all the ingredients in together until you have something that resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Press the mixture into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
4. When cooked, taken the tin out the oven and reduce to heat to 160C (325F).
5. To make the filling, whisk the eggs and egg yolks together until combined. Add the other ingredients and whisk until smooth.
6. Pour the lemon mixture over the base and bake for 20-25 minutes until set. Remove from the oven and chill for at least 2 hours. Before serving, dust with icing sugar.
* I used gluten free flour for my dad and it sort of worked. Probably safer to go for plain flour unless you can't.