Monday, July 9, 2012

Creamy Lemon Tart

To love, honour and eat all that I cook. Isn't that what marriage is all about? My husband says no. He says he never signed on to be my food taster. What's he on about? Sign on? Just do what I say, man!
If only it was that simple. I need to find new food tasters because the man who lives in my house has gone on strike.

The problem lies  with me (yeah, go figure!) and my constant need for a second opinion. This applies to everything I do and i really pity my colleagues who I often burden to red through my stories before they come out in print. Sorry guys. But I do bake you cakes :)

So anyway, with this tart, I didn't need a second opinion. It is, after all, based on a Daniel Boulud recipe, from his Cafe Boulud Cookbook. (Boulud works with food writer Dorrie Greenspan to rework some of his popular recipes so that home cooks can recreate them in the home kitchens. The flavours are retained but the methods are simplified). A Boulud recipe?  How could it not be wonderful, right.

The original recipe pairs the lemon custard with raspberries but I used strawberries instead. Boulud's tart is also called a "whole lemon tart" as the recipe uses not just the juice and rind of a lemon but also the flesh. That's a lot of lemon but amazingly, the tart isn't too ... err, tart. Haha. Sorry, I had to include the pun. The lemon isn't overpowering at all. Sure, you get whacked with the taste of lemon immediately but it's not unpleasant; neither is it too acidic -  the cream that's in the egg custard adds a nice balance, I guess.

Yes, cream. Yummmmm.

The strawberries went well with the lemon but I was glad I though of making two tarts with the lemon-rich custard: one tart had strawberries inside it and the second didn't - instead, I made a pure lemon cream tart and kept some strawberries aside to make a sauce to go with the tart, as an option.

I must say I liked the lemon tart on it’s own a little better. With a little whipped cream and the strawberry sauce, it was rather sublime.

For the original recipe, kindly refer to Baking with Dorie, Greenspan's article that appeared on Serious Eats. The recipe I am including is the plain lemon tart with the strawberry sauce.

Creamy Lemon Tart (with a strawberry sauce)

For the pastry
(Enough for two 8-inch tarts)
225g plain flour
25g icing sugar
150g butter, softened
¼ tsp salt
1 egg yolk
25ml cold milk

For the filling
2 lemons lemons
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the sauce
1/3 cup diced strawberries
3 tbsp sugar (or less, my strawberries weren't too sweet)
1/2 cup water

First, the pastry. Put the flour, sugar, salt in a bowl and whisk together. Add the butter in and using your fingers, mix the butter in with the dry ingredients. Add the egg yolk and the milk and gently combine till a soft dough forms. Divide in two and shape into discs.  Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 150C.

Once the dough has chilled, Remove and gently roll the discs out one at a time. The dough should be larger than 8 inch in diameter to cover the base and sides of your tin.

Transfer the dough to the tart tin and gently press to fit. Poke holes in the base of the tart and bake the shell for 10-15 minutes or until the base sets just a little (when you press the base gently, it should be a little firm).

Make the custard.
Zest both the lemons. Set aside the zest. Cut the top and base of the lemons and then, using a small, sharp knife, cut away the skin from the flesh. Make sure you take away all the skin and the pith. Cut the lemon pieces in half and remove all the seeds. Do this over a bowl so you don't lose any of the juice.

Now, transfer the flesh and juice of the lemon (sans the seeds and pith) into your blender. Add the sugar, eggs and egg yolks and blend till smooth. Transfer to a bowl and add the zest and cream and mix together.

The tart is not ready to be baked. Once the shell is ready, fill the tart with the custard. It will be a little runny, don't worry it will set. (a tip:place the tart tray on a larger tray so you can put it in the oven without spilling any of the precious custard). Bake for 35- 40 mins or until the middle of the tart has set. The baked custard will be a little soft.

For the sauce, just add the strawberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and cook over low heat until the sauce thickens. As the strawberries get soft, mash them up with the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat when the sauce reaches the consistency you wish.

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