Monday, September 12, 2011

Lemon Tart or Lemon Bars--Whatever You Prefer

I thought that this recipe for a simple yet delicious dessert would be a great transition from summer to fall. A sour and refreshing top, for still hot days, yet with a baked bottom, like many fall deserts. But in the past few days weather has been here rather very autumny, more like in October, with rains that seem never to take breaks. Since I bought extra lemons for that recipe I decided to make it anyway. And even more so because my niece from Poland was visiting me and we enjoyed our afternoon coffees with a piece (read "three") of home-made cake.

This crust is the one that I make most often. I also use it in my tarts, which have cream and egg fillings, but originally it comes exactly from this recipe. I love it not only because it is very delicate and sandy, but most of all because it does not require any special techniques to make it, but three ingredients, two hands, one oven, and a cake is ready in no time. And the classic lemon topping seems to be everyone's favorite.

Sometimes I make it in a square form and cut it into rectangles--then someone called "oh, lemon bars". But, more often, I make, as I call it, a French (elegant) version in a round tart form and then it becomes rather a lemon tart. I sprinkle it with icing sugar and always decorate with seasonal berries.

Lemon Tart or Lemon Bars
(For a square or round 9 inch baking tin)

Ingredients for the crust:
2 cups all purpose flour,
2 sticks, cold, unsalted butter,
1/2 cup icing sugar.

Ingredients for the filling:
1 can sweetened condensed milk,
4 eggs,
3/4 cup lemon juice,
1 tbsp lemon zest,
1 tsp baking powder,
1 tbsp flour.

1. Put flour, butter, and sugar in a large bowl. Working with hands break the butter into small pieces and rub in the dry ingredients to make large crumbles.
2. Place the crust in a plastic bag and let it chill for a minimum of 30 minutes. This step can be made ahead and the crust can stay in a refrigerator for couple of weeks.
3. Preheat oven to 350F.
4. Spread the crust crumbles on the baking form and its walls.

5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the crust is slightly gold.
6. Using an electric mixer (I do that in a stand Kitchen Aid mixer) mix milk and eggs. Add lemon juice, flour, baking powder, and lemon zest. Spread the filling over the crust and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until the top is set but not too hard.

Cool down and cut into diamonds or rectangles,

or into triangles.

Serve decorated with fresh berries and whipped cream, if you like.

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