Saturday, March 31, 2007

For the love of lemon

I have been staring at my lemon cream tart pictures for almost half an hour, thinking of a suitable way to start this blog entry. But nothing came. I can't find a way to tell you how much I love lemon, and everything that has to do with lemon.

It has been awhile.I have absolutely zero resistant for any lemon recipes. And this one, is from Pierre Herme, the France's most acclaimed pastry chef. I got the recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my home to yours, in which there are many recipes that caught my eyes and I can't wait to try them all. But I decided to make this promising lemon cream tart before everything else. One of the reasons is because Dorie Greenspan described the lemon cream as the "ne plus ultra of the lemon world". Trust me, no lemon lover can resist a description like this.

Usually, I am not a tart-person. I prefer cakes and cookies. I detest making tarts, because it is simply too much a hassle to make the dough without a food processor. It's always messy, with no guarantee of success. Still, I went ahead. I want to know what a "ne plus ultra" tastes like.

Instead of making one big tart, I used the tart recipe to make 7 tartlets. I thought it would be easier to give most away so that I won't overeat. My initial plan was to eat just ONE, but I couldn't contain myself! I finished half of the tarts within 2 days! And I am happy to report that the lemon tart is everything that it promised. A buttery tart with velvety smooth lemon cream. The only downside is the two and a half sticks of butter used in the cream. Isn't the amount of fat appalling? No wonder people say love is blind. I am entirely oblivious of my increasing waistline in the name of lemony love....

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

Lemon Cream
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 (10.5 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces, at room temperature
sweet tart dough (see recipe below)

Have an instant read termometer, a strainer and a blender (first choice) 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 heat proof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and lemon zest together until the sugar is moist and fragrant.Whish the eggs, followed by 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 180F. As you whisk, you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling- you see that the cream start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will gets bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180F, it starts to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at the 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 180F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender; discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high and with the machine running, 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- toget the perfect light, airy texture of lemon cream dreams, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes.

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 hous 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 into the tart shell. Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.

Sweet Tart Dough

1.5 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tbsp (9 tbsp) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put all the dry ingredients into the 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 sizes of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break up, and add 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 us 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 working surface and very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (or 7-8 mini tart moulds). Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pans. Save a little piece of dough in the fridge to patch up any crack after the crusts are baked. Freeze crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To bake:
Center a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminium foil, and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (if you are baking in a 9-inch tart pan) If the individual tart molds are used, simply cover with a layer of aluminium foil on top of the molds. Bake the crust for 25 minutes (shorter time for the small tarts). Remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of the spoon. Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until the crust is firm and golden brown.

Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

1 comment:

Sally said...

Ohh...I love your lemon tart, it's look perfect and crunchy. Will try this recipe for sure....thanks for the sharing the recipe!!

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