Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

A Tuesdays with Dorie event
To complete the two-part series I started in March, I present on the left, once again, the lemon tart from Baking Illustrated, and on the right, this week's Tuesdays with Dorie project, Ms Greenspan's lengthily but aptly named treat.


Not meant to be baked, cold lemon cream is spooned into a room-temperature blind-baked tart shell, which like the tart from March is also a pâte sablée. Ms Greenspan notes that the contrast in textures - the crunch of the crust and the smoothness of cream- as well as in temperatures make for a heightened experience.


Whipped heavy cream can be added to this lemon cream but it best shines as a star by itself, even without the cookie crust. It can be particularly hard to resist taking a spoon to an entire batch. "Lemon cream dreams" is how Ms Greenspan fittingly describes this creation.

What's unique is that unsalted butter - oh, about 21 tablespoons - is incorporated into the curd after the curd is cooked instead of before which is more typical. Also, the aid of a blender is solicited for the task. The process is similar to making mayonnaise or mounting a sauce (monter au beurre), and the final product is a silky cream that maybe soupy in the beginning but firms up nicely in the refrigerator after four or more hours.


This technique allows the butter to stay in emulsion because it is being whisked vigorously as it melts. Milk solids that normally separate from the fat mostly stay as they are, creating a luxurious mouthfeel as well as creating a characteristically pale colour.

I came upon a batch of Meyer lemons at Granville Island Market that was deeply-orange, and I thought that this would be a perfect starting point to get a slightly more hued result.


Wanting to demonstrate with this blog entry the process of making this outstanding lemon cream, I dropped by the market again to see if Meyer lemons were available. Alas, the lady at South China Seas Trading Company - purveyor of all things rare here in Vancouver, BC - informed me that they received only one box of the lemons and they promptly sold out.

Perhaps on another occasion.

Notes:

  • Thanks to Mary from Starting from Scratch for hosting this week's event and for her great choice!
  • The recipe, featured on Global Gourmet, will also be available on Mary's blog. Please head on to Tuesdays with Dorie to see everybody's creations.
  • A discovery by Rose Levy Beranbaum lead me to play around with Ms Greenspan's recipe. I whisked in four tablespoons of soft butter into the eggs and sugar before adding the citrus juice, and true enough, the reduction in egg residue upon straining was substantial. The remaining butter was then blended in as usual, and there was no detriment to the lemon cream.
  • Unlike a traditional pie crust, pâte sablée can stand on its own as a sugar cookie. In fact, cookies actually descended from pâte sablée. Re-roll the scraps. It can be handled fairly vigorously without risk of toughening the dough because of all the tenderizing sugar in it. Cut out shapes for cookies, crust the top with sanding sugar and bake until light brown.
  • To avoid an "off" taste, make the curd using a non-reactive pan (and of course, non-reactive bowls, spoons).
  • The recipe for this cream is a hand-me-down from Pierre Hermé. He continues to blend the curd after all the butter is added for 10 minutes, instead of three as what Ms Greenspan directs.

31 comments:

Peabody said...

What a beautiful swirl pattern you made in yours.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Fantastic! That tart looks gorgeous! Great job here!

Cheers,

Rosa

ostwestwind said...

These are luscious!
Ulrike from Küchenlatein

Sarah said...

Interesting read and gorgeous tart! I love the swirl pattern!

Mary said...

thank you for the informative description.....your tart is truly stunning!

Mary Ann said...

I love your pictures and all the information! Your tart looks great!

Marie said...

Julius, your tart and pictures look fabuluos! I love all the extra information you have included as well. I learned something new!

Jessica said...

Julius, that looks great! I'm jealous that you have Granville Island. I went to Vancouver about a year and a half ago and adored Granville Island!!

Shari said...

Again, your notes at the end are gems of information. Your lemon tart looks creamy and delicious!

The Frosted Bake Shop said...

your tart looks great. what an informative post. thanks!

LyB said...

Very beautiful, your tart looks incredible! I'm not sure I could have endured 10 minutes of my blender whirring away though, 3 minutes was just enough for me!

Isabelle said...

tes photos sont superbes :)

Madam Chow said...

I saw that tip from Rose Levy Berenbaum, too, but forgot to use it. I'm glad you did, with obviously outstanding results! I'll have to keep it in mind for next time.

Annemarie said...

The swirly tart looks beautiful!

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Beautiful job, Julius, your tarts look fabulous!

Donna said...

Love the swirls! You're desserts always come out looking spectacular!

CB said...

Beautiful tart!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Tammy said...

wow! your tart looks amazing. I love the swirl pattern, I will have to try that next time

Natalie said...

Fantastic job, and a very informative post!

smellslikehome said...

gorgeous photos and great tips at the end of your post!!

Cafe Johnsonia said...

Love this, Julius!

Di said...

I love reading your posts. They are always informative--I enjoy reading your notes and seeing your great photos!

Shari said...

You’ve been given an “Excellent Blog Award”. See Whisk: a food blog for more information. Congratulations!

SiHaN said...

i adore the swirls on your lemon cream! very very pretty!

slush said...

Stunning! Your photos are gorgeous. Seriously lovely tart.

Melissa said...

Thanks for all the research! Your swirl pattern is so pretty!

Dolores said...

I never fail to learn something from you Julius. Thank you for the tips about reducing egg residue and redeploying the pate sablee

Julie said...

It looks so soft and delicious! I love all your swirl patterns--they make me dizzy. ;) The next time I have lemons on hand, I'm going to try this lemon cream recipe!

Fran Z said...

You, Sir, are magnificent!

mimi said...

i am a little late, but beautiful photos, your tart looks so yummy! your blog is great, i love that you take the time to add your reflections, notes, etc at the end.

jj said...

Your tart looks absolutely fantastic...but I guess I'm far from the first to say so! LOL Great job...admire your talent.