Tuesday, April 8, 2008

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Tuesdays with Dorie: Lemon Cream Tart


I had so much fun with this week's recipe. I have never made a tart before and did not know what to expect. I must admit that it was easier than what I thought and it was so much fun to make. The tart shell tasted like a butter cookie and the lemon filling reminded me a lot of the candy Lemonhead.

Thank you Mary of Starting from Scratch for making this week's selection.

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart
Source: Dorie Greenspan's 'Baking: From My Home to Yours'

1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature
1 9-inch tart shell (see below for recipe)

Getting ready:
Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.

Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk - you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling - you'll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point - the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don't stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience - depending on how much heat you're giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.

As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going - to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.

Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator).

When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.


Sweet Tart Dough
Source: Dorie Greenspan's 'Baking From My Home to Yours'

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk


Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in—you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses—about 10 seconds each—until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change—heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To press the dough into the pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don't be too heavy-handed—press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To partially or full bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).

To fully bake the crust: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. (I dislike lightly baked crusts, so I often keep the crust in the oven just a little longer. If you do that, just make sure to keep a close eye on the crust's progress—it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash.) Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

Before and after time spent in the oven.


Freshly filled with lemony goodness.


It looked too bland to me so I jazzed it up with strawberries and mint.


Much better and so eye popping.

Last, but not least....enjoy!

21 comments:

LyB said...

Beautiful! I had a lot of fun too! Your tartlets look delicious!!

Shari said...

Love the strawberry garnish! Looks tasty!

The Frosted Bake Shop said...

Lemon & strawberry wow. Your tarts look delicious

CRS said...

Great touch with the strawberries and mint!

Mary said...

the tarts look wonderful and with the strawberries on top it's just plain stunning....looks like your first tart experience was an absolute success!

Annemarie said...

I love your pictures! Your tarts look amazing!

Dolores said...

Your strawberry garnish is stunning. Great job with your first tarts. :)

Madam Chow said...

These are gorgeous - the strawberries, mint, and lemon yellow go so well together.

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Great job, the garnish definitely takes it to the next level!

Rebecca of "Ezra Pound Cake" said...

That strawberry garnish looks awesome. Ah, spring.

Rebecca
http://www.ezrapoundcake.com

cruisingkitty said...

WOW! What cute tarts! I love the strawberries on top. Looks yummy as well!

Amy said...

Your pictures are beautiful! And I love that you added the strawberry!

Erin said...

I love the mini tarts! I really like the strawberries on top- lemon and strawberry is a great combination!

Judy said...

Your tarts are beautiful. The strawberries make such a lovely presentation.

Cafe Johnsonia said...

Lovely! Great job!

Piggy said...

Are you sure that this is your first time making tarts? They look lovely! :-)

bakersbakery said...

Your tarts look so pretty with the extra garnish!

Melissa said...

Yours look wonderful!

CB said...

Gorgeous strawberry lemon tart. Great job!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Natalie said...

Gorgeous presentation!

Jaime said...

your tarts are beautiful! i agree that the strawberries make them prettier :)