Friday, June 29, 2007

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

I'm currently in LOVE with my new Dorie Greenspan cookbook,
Baking from My Home to Yours. Everyday, I thumb through it looking for something new to try - most of the time they're just dreams but some do turn into reality like the Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes, Flaky Apple Turnovers and now the tart of my dreams.

I'm kinda hopeless when it comes to pies and tarts probably because I don't make enough to practise hence I wanted to try this Lemon Cream Tart real badly. I was tempted to make it but lacked a candy thermometer which is a must for the lemon cream. Not sure why but bake shops in Kuala Lumpur don't seem to readily stock the thermometer. Thus when I spied one at Pantry Magic in Singapore, I quickly grabbed it and vowed to make this tart as soon as possible.

Once you have the thermometer, making the lemon cream is a breeze. All it needs is patience, an essential ingredient in baking and cooking to make it work. I used a blender to add the butter which was really easy and left it in the fridge overnight for the flavours to develop. Whip it up the next day in a bowl and spoon it in a pre-baked tart shell of your choice. The cream was so light with a clean lemon flavour. Not too sour and utterly delectable. We were meant to share the small tart in the first picture but I ended up eating almost all of it as I couldn't stop myself.

I also played around with different tart shells in the pictures. The first one is my own tart shell made from a recipe from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook. It was also easy to make and so light plus crumbly. To test the tart dough, I had made them with small tart pans versus a 9 inch tart pan. I only baked two tart shells while the other two have been kept in the freezer for later. For the mini tart shells, I had found them at the bake shop namely Guten Braun at Seapark, Petaling Jaya. They're made from ground almonds and a steal since they cost only 60 sens each. Tastewise, they weren't as light as my home made one. However, they're really handy if you can't be bothered to make the tart shells.

As the recipe uses American measurements, try GourmetSleuth to convert. It's pretty accurate as measurements differ for each ingredient. On another note, for those of you who love food reviews, take note that from July onwards, I will be posting during the weekend together with the Weekend Cat Blogging entries. Have a great weekend and if you have time, make this Lemon Cream Tart a weekend project.

Lemon Cream

1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (10-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature

Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor (I used a blender for this recipe) 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 and, 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 (for 9 inch tart)

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon 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, icing 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 fully 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.

To patch a partially or fully baked crust, if necessary: If there are any cracks in the baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to take the rawness off the patch.


backStreetGluttons said...

move over fbb , heavenly pleasures , big boys etc etc
its time for boo's July07 European & Mediterranean lemon creame tarts ++ summer love edition. TQ
( engage us v shall promote fine for you... if we don't clean them off all by ourselves first)

Babe_KL said...

the lemon cream looked silky and smooth, must be very nice until you cant stop eating them haha

sc said...

this tart looks delish! but looks like lots of work to make it.. nampak susah!

Tummythoz said...

*dipping finger(s) into d lemon cream*

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

looks nice and buttery. can't wait to try it. ;-)

Poonky said... did u do delivery service hahaha :P i wanna eat

fatboybakes said...

ooh, good thing i bought my candy thermometer....time to pop its cherry. where to buy this dorie greenspan book ah?

Sweettooth said...

how does a candy thermometer look like? i love tangy lemon tarts and wanna try bake one. yours look mouth-watering!

boo_licious said...

team bsg - this one home baker not going to sell though as not as professional as Just Heavenly or FBB.

babe - now I know why all the egullet forummers and everyone else was raving abt the cream.

sc - actually not a lot of work if you break it up i.e make tarts one day. Then make cream one day.

tummythoz - LOL, at least u will be more dainty compared to me eating crabs.

lemongrass - LOL, me no expert like FBB though.

poonky - sorry, I'm not an expert hence dare not give other people.

fbb - I got mine at Kinokuniya - u probably need to check if they have copies. The time I bought they ran out hence I had to order. Could have stocked up by now. The bookshop has a lot of new stuff - Eric Gower's new book, Belinda Jeffery Mix and Bake, Bill Granger's new book and etc. All look so tempting, had to leave quickly or else I will buy something.

sweettooth - it's a round small thermometer on a metal stick, kinda like a meat thermometer. I think Chang Tung sells it behind the glass counter but quite pricey hence I never did buy it.

Jackson said...

Ohhh...this is the one u mentioned te other day! ZGOood! When can i be yr guinea pig?

chenboon said...

oooo... wonderful tart, i love the lemon cream...
thanks for sharing, i can try to do it my own now...

boo_licious said...

jackson - I thought u had enough of durian tiramisu. One day you can try once I perfect my technique.

chenboon - hope it works out. This one is definitely a must try.

Big Boys Oven said...

Great colour and must taste yummy

boo_licious said...

big boys oven - thxs. Not as pro as yrs but it's only for two of our tummies.

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