My favorite bakery in all of Iowa City isn't exactly a bakery in the traditional sense. There's no shop that you can visit; no glass case filled with pastries. Instead, the Burrowing Owl Bakery is a little wooden stand at the Saturday Farmers Market manned by Allie Gnade (the baker) and her boyfriend. I had heard about the amazing baking talents of Allie from a friend of mine who used to work at Grinnell (Allie is a former Grinnellian). And after tasting one of her delectable lemon tarts, I was an immediate convert.
The Lemon Tart consists of a bright, flavorful lemon filling inside a crisp, buttery shortbread pastry shell. Shortbread doesn't really do this crust justice - more than a shortbread, this pastry shell is light, flaky and absolutely delicious. The filling is also something I can't even begin to describe. It's got an intense lemon flavor and a smooth, creamy texture. Amazing. I have also tried Allie's Chocolate Caramel Tart. This is seriously heavenly. The chocolate is rich, with a wonderful sweetness (but like the lemon tart, not too overly-sweet). It pairs well with the fantastic shortbread crust. While the sweets are my favorite, the onion rosemary tart was also delicious (more of a quiche-type filling) - I basically inhaled one of these for lunch the other day.
Allie bakes all of her pastries and breads in her mother's oven the night before the Farmers Market (so supplies are often limited). Get to the market early if you want the best selection!
Burrowing Owl Bakery
Iowa City, IA