2.11.2014

Tartine's Lemon Cream Tart

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I do not bake. Too much measuring and lots of directions. When the husband first got his Tartine desserts book, I glanced at it, and the pages upon pages of instructions on a single recipe, and I said NO THANKS and moved on. Who has time? Who has the motivation? Not me. But, I got suckered into assisting here with the good 'ole "I'll probably screw this up if you don't help" line.

We visited Tartine Bakery on New Year's Day before heading home from Pt. Reyes. And everything in their display cases looked amazing, glistening with butter. You leave the place feeling really greasy. This visit inspired the husband to pull out the Tartine cookbook and give this lemon cream tart a try.

Nothing about this recipe is difficult, except the whisking of the cream for 20 minutes straight (which for some reason I did while being supervised), but everything takes time, and lots of waiting in between. Prep. Chill. Bake. Chill. Cream. Chill. The most fun was assembling the tart and making it pretty.
This tart was the very first time we used the Meyer lemons from our garden. Three years later, and we had our first harvest, about 10 lemons.
 And here I am whisking. This happened for a long time.
There's a lot of butter in this recipe, as you will see below. We decided for future lemon cream, we'll add about half as much. We tasted the cream before any butter, and it was already really delicious.
This tart travels well. We took it to a dinner party where we whipped up some cream, and sprinkled dark chocolate on top.
Tart Shell
(makes 4 – 9 inch shells)

1 cup + 2 Tbsp Unsalted butter (room temp)
1 cup Sugar
¼ tsp Salt
3½ cups All-purpose flour
Optional *for egg wash to create a golden tart you need 1 egg and a pinch of salt, lightly beat egg with salt to prepare the egg-wash*

1) Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, and salt and mix on medium speed until smooth. Mix in 1 egg.  Add the remaining egg and mix until smooth.
2) Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add flour all at once and mix on low speed just until incorporated.
3) On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 4 equal balls and shape each ball into a disk ½ inch thick.
4) Wrap will in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours
5) Place dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll out approx ⅛ ” thick
6) Create or cut out circles 2″ larger than the pan. Do not stretch dough or it will shrink during baking.
7) Place the pastry shell in the refrigerator for about 15 mins
8) Pre heat oven to 325F
9) Using a fork, make tiny holes in the bottom of the tart shell. Place in the oven for 5-7 mins for tartlet shells and 7-10 mins for single tart shells.
10) If using an egg wash, remove from oven after first phase of baking and brush entire shell with egg wash. Return to oven until tart shell is golden (approx 5 mins-7 mins)
11) Let cool completely on wire racks.

Lemon Cream
Makes about 2 1/2 cups (for 1 – 9 inch shell)

½ cup + 2 tablespoons lemon juice (Meyer or regular)
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
¾ cups sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup unsalted butter

1) Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches into a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer.
2) Combine the lemon juice, whole eggs, yolk, sugar, and salt in a stainless steel bowl that will rest securely in the rim of a saucepan over, not touching, the water. (Never let the egg yolks and sugar sit together for more than a moment without stirring; the sugar will cook the yolks and turn them granular.) Place the bowl over the saucepan and continue to whisk until the mixture becomes very thick and registers 180° F on a thermometer. This will take 10 to 12 minutes. If you don't have or trust your thermometer, don't worry. It should thicken to the point that your whisk leaves a trail through the curd.
3) Remove the bowl from over the water and let cool to 140° F, stirring from time to time to release the heat.
4) Meanwhile, cut butter into 1-tablespoon (15-ml) pieces. When the cream is ready, leave it in the bowl if using an immersion blender, or pour it into a counter top blender. With the blender running, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, blending after each addition until incorporated before adding the next piece. The cream will be pale yellow and opaque and quite thick.

5) You can use the cream immediately, or pour it into a storage container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 5 days. To use after refrigeration, if necessary, gently heat in a stainless steel bowl set over simmering water until it has softened, whisking constantly.

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