When Sarah visited California recently, and the duo was reunited for a week or so, we decided to explore vegan baking with a recipe that combines some of our favorite things: Earl Grey tea and cupcakes! We found this recipe on itdoesn’ttastelikechicken.com, and decided to give it a try.
The only real modification that we made was that we doubled the frosting amount. The original recipe stated that the cupcakes were lightly frosted, which is fine if you aren’t a sugar addict like we are! Besides, when is having leftover frosting ever a bad thing?
This delectable dessert can be made with plums, or with berries. We’ve found it to be the most delicious with blackberries! For our vegan friends, substitute the butter with vegan butter spread and use an egg replacer, such as flax egg or Ener-G Egg Replacer.
- 2 Cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 Cups walnuts, finely chopped
- 3/4 Cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 Sticks butter, very cold
- 1 Egg yolk2 lb. Plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise, (or equivalent of another fruit or berry)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Dice the butter. Make sure it’s very cold and straight out of the fridge.
- Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a food processor or mixer. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Pulse in food processor, or mix with an electric mixer, until crumbly.
- Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch springform or tart pan.
- Arrange the plums in the pan, skin side down, to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.
- sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm.
Note: Adjust amount of sugar according to tartness of the fruit that is being used. This dessert can also be cooked in a brownie pan instead of a tart pan.
These treats are called Family Tree Lemon Bars because they are made with lemons that were picked from a tree that has stood in my grandparents’ backyard for generations. Countless family members have harvested fresh lemons from this tree, and some still do.
For tips and advice on freezing your own fresh lemon juice and zest, see our related post!
Family Tree Lemon Bars
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup butter, softened (or veggie “butter” spread)
Fresh Lemon Filling:
- 2/3 cup lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
- Zest of 2 lemons
- ¼ cup plus 1 Tbs All-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 4 Eggs (or vegan egg substitute – adjust measurements as needed)
- Powdered sugar for dusting, if desired
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, blend together all crust ingredients and press into an ungreased 9 x 13 pan.
- Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and slightly firm.
- While the crust is baking, mix filling ingredients together in another bowl. Pour the filling mixture over the baked crust and return to oven.
- Bake for additional 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool. Lightly dust the top with powdered sugar. Cut into bars to serve. Filling will thicken once chilled. Store covered in refrigerator.
To make this recipe vegan, use an egg replacement and a vegan “butter” spread. Please note that we have not tested the vegan version of this recipe, so we cannot speak to the texture or possible measurement adjustments that might be necessary. We’d love to hear from anyone that gives this a try!
**Baking times are for use with a 9 x 13 baking pan. If using a smaller pan for thicker bars, baking time will need to be increased by 5 – 10 minutes for crust as well as for the filling.**
If you’re lucky enough to have access to a lemon tree but aren’t sure what to do with all those fresh lemons, here’s a short tutorial on freezing fresh lemon juice and zest!
Step one should be to wash the lemons, especially if you’re freezing the zest. The next step is the longest one – zesting all those lemons! Use a box grater or zester to complete this step.
Once all the lemons are zested, lay a piece of waxed paper on a baking sheet. Place lemon zest on the waxed paper in 1 tsp clumps. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least an hour. At this point, the clumps of lemon zest should be stiff enough that they can be wrapped individually with cling wrap and placed into a freezer bag or jar. Label the container with measurement information and date, and store in the freezer.
Juice lemons into a large bowl. We suggest juicing by hand rather than with a juicer in order to avoid a bitter lemon rind taste. Strain lemon juice to remove any seeds. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Once thoroughly frozen, remove cubes and place into a freezer bag. Label the bag with measurement information and date.
Lemon zest and fresh lemon juice both defrost rapidly for easy use in recipes!
For a delicious dessert using fresh lemons, see our recipe for Family Tree Lemon Bars!