Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Seventy-Seven: Baking ~ From My Home to Yours

by Dorie Greenspan

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

It's Oscar time again!

I have been wanting to make this ever since I bought the book and read "It is the ne plus ultra of the lemon world." I love lemon desserts and thought this would be the perfect occasion to make such an over indulgent treat.

Everyone seemed to enjoy this one; even my daughter who stopped by the following day and had the leftovers with me, which were great the next day. I had the last piece two days later and thought it was even better. The lemon cream firmed up beautifully and had the texture of smooth butter. I will for sure refrigerate it at least a day before serving should I make this again.

Success meter (1-3): 3

I received these in my Christmas stocking a few years
ago and have been anxious to use them ever since. I was
hesitant to use these for the tart dough is quite delicate -
so in the end I opted for my rectangular pan.

I love her desciption "to blend until you
 get the perfect light, airy texture of
 lemon-cream dreams."

I decided to roll out the dough rather than
pressing the loose dough into the pan.

The cookies came out a bit over cooked. I really
should not blog on two recipes and get ready
for a party at the same time.

The curd is nice and firm...

..until you whisk it, which makes it fluid again.

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart
Serves 8

1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
¾ cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into
    tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature
1 9-inch tart shell made with Sweet Tart Dough (recipe to follow)

Getting Ready: Have an instant-read thermometer, 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 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°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°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°F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor) 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 – 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.

Serve with fresh berries, crème fraîche , or fruit coulis.

Sweet Tart Dough
Makes enough
For one 9-inch crust

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 stick plus 1 Tbl. 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.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°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. Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

Baking: From My Home to Yours/Dorie Greenspan


  1. How funny! I will be doing this exact tart for the weekend and I had been looking at some old TWD to see if the result was good for everbody, you helped me with the final decision!!

    1. Happy to be of service! Hopefully you will be posting your recipe? Would love to see your results.


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