These Gluten-Free Vegan Lemon Crumble Bars are the perfect sweet treat: a crunchy base topped a creamy, tangy lemon curd and a "buttery" crumble topping. They're refined sugar free and are an excellent make-ahead for Easter, Mother's Day, bridal showers and baby showers! They're great for sharing and an excellent alternative to Lemon Pie!
Why does this recipe use brown rice flour?
You can use white rice flour or gluten-free flour, but I found the texture was much better with brown rice flour. If you can't find brown rice flour in your local supermarket, you'll be able to find it in local health stores or online.
How is the lemon curd made?
The lemon curd is made using shop-bought custard powder.
This is my favourite custard powder - it's vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free, and contains just 4 simple ingredients!
Not only does this custard powder act as a thickener, making the lemon curd extra creamy, but it also adds a lovely colour without having to use something like turmeric.
What can the custard powder be replaced with?
If you can't get hold of a shop-bought custard powder, you can replace it with the same amount of cornflour (cornstarch) or arrowroot, which will result in a similar texture, though the colour will be considerably less yellow.
To add yellow colour, I would suggest adding a tiny pinch of saffron, which I much prefer to turmeric as it has a much milder flavour.
What type of plant-based milk is used to make the lemon curd?
You can use any type of plant-based milk, though results do vary depending on which one you choose: cashew, oat or coconut milk make the creamiest and thickest curd, whilst almond milk will be less creamy. I personally prefer to use rice milk as it creates a just-set lemon curd-like consistency which I love.
How to make this recipe
Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe.
- Mix together the ingredients for the dough in a glass mixing bowl.
- Transfer one half into a square baking tin.
Tip: Line the tin with greased baking paper to make it easier to remove the bars after.
- Use your fingers to push the mixture all the way to the edges, then use a spatula to press down on it until the surface is completely even.
- Bake in oven for 10 minutes - you'll be baking this again so you don't want to over-bake at this stage!
- Measure out the rice milk in a measuring jug.
- Pour the milk into a pan, leaving behind a few tablespoons of milk in the jug.
- Heat up the milk.
- Add the custard powder to the remaining milk in the jug and mix well, ensuring it has dissolved completely.
- Once the milk in the pan is steaming, add approximately half of the hot milk to the bowl with the dissolved custard powder, mix well and transfer the custard powder mixture to the pan.
- Mix well and keep stirring on a low heat for around 5 minutes, until thickened.
- Add the lemon juice and maple syrup.
- Pour the lemon curd over the base until it’s completely evenly covered and make sure the surface is smooth.
Tip: Tap the dish gently on the counter a few times to get rid of the air bubbles.
- Use your fingers to crumble the rest of the dough mixture over the top until it is all used up and the lemon curd completely covered.
- Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Leave to cool then keep in the fridge for at least 4 hours until it firms up - may take slightly longer depending on the type of custard powder you use, the temperature of your fridge etc.
- Cut into squares once it’s completely firmed up.
How long do these keep for?
These Lemon Crumble Bars do taste best when fresh, but they keep covered in the fridge for up to a few days.
Substitutions you can make
- you can replace the coconut oil with coconut butter
- you can use any type of liquid sweetener: maple syrup, agave syrup, brown rice syrup etc
- the ground almonds (almond meal) can be replaced with ground walnuts
- for a nut-free version, use ground sunflower seeds instead of ground almonds and use a nut-free plant-based milk
- you can replace the brown rice flour with plain flour if you’re not gluten-free
- you can add flaked or desiccated coconut or oats to the crumble topping.
Substitutions to be careful of
- you can use white rice flour or gluten-free flour but the texture is much better with brown rice flour
- I would recommend making the curd with rice milk - see recipe notes for details.
More vegan dessert recipes
- Chocolate Lava Cake
- Apple Crumble Bars
- Coconut Macaroons
- Lemon Bars
- Strawberry Trifle
- Sugar Cookies
- Strawberry Shortcake
- Baked Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Yule Log
- Lemon Cheesecake Crumble Bars
- Blueberry Crumble Bars
- Lemon Pudding
- Lemon Poppy Seed Bread
- Vegan Baked Cheesecake
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d really love to hear any feedback! Please give it a rating, leave a comment, or tag a photo @rhiansrecipes #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! Thank you.
Gluten-Free Vegan Lemon Crumble Bars
For the crumble:
- 30 g (⅛ cup) coconut oil (or sub coconut butter)
- 10 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other similar sweetener)
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
- 150 g (1 ¼ cup) ground almonds (almond meal) *
- 150 g (1 cup) brown rice flour ** (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
- Pinch salt
For the crumble:
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Place the coconut oil in a large bowl and melt over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave
- Add the maple syrup, milk, ground almonds, brown rice flour and salt and mix well – add an extra splash of milk if it’s looking too dry to combine
- Divide the dough in half
- Transfer one half of the dough into a square or rectangular baking tin lined with greased baking paper – I used a 23cm/9inch square baking tin
- Use your fingers to push the mixture all the way to the edges, then use a spatula to press down on it until the surface is completely even
- Bake in oven for 10 minutes
- Place the remaining half of the dough in the fridge while you make the rest (this will help it firm up and make it easier to crumble over the top after)
For the lemon curd:
- Measure out the milk in a jug or measuring container
- Pour the milk into a pan, leaving behind a few tablespoons of milk in the jug
- Heat up the milk in the pan
- Add the custard powder to the remaining milk in the jug and mix well, ensuring it has dissolved completely
- Once the milk in the pan is steaming, add approximately half of the hot milk to the bowl with the dissolved custard powder, mix well and transfer the custard powder mixture to the pan
- Mix well and keep stirring on a low heat for around 5 minutes, until thickened
- Add the lemon juice and maple syrup
- Taste and add extra lemon juice or maple syrup if desired
- Pour the lemon curd over the base until it’s completely evenly covered and make sure the surface is smooth
- Use your fingers to crumble the rest of the dough mixture over the top until it is all used up and the lemon curd is completely covered
- Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until golden brown
- Leave to cool then keep in the fridge for at least 4 hours until it firms up (may take slightly longer depending on the type of custard powder you use, the temperature of your fridge etc)
- Cut into squares once it’s completely firmed up
- Tastes best when fresh, but keeps covered in the fridge for up to a few days
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