Welcome to Relishing It! I’ve finally taken the leap and committed to writing a weekly blog. Obviously I love to cook and bake, but more recently I’ve come to appreciate the photography aspect of food blogs as well. Food has always been a significant part of my life– a passion, I guess. It’s a creative and social outlet for me and my family.
So what about me? Well, for more detail you can check here. In brief, I’m originally a small-town North Dakota girl, now a thirty-something mother of two who lives in St. Paul, MN. My children keep me busy, as they’re only four and two years old. This makes the baking/cooking/photography “interesting” during the day. I was lucky enough to marry my high-school sweetheart (who may make a guest appearance here every once in a while).
I have fairly strong views on food, from how it’s marketed, to nutrition, to its effect on the environment. I generally subscribe to the Bittman/Pollan food models. I use organic, locally-sourced ingredients when possible, and usually shy away from anything overly processed. While I’ll do my best not to preach, you’ll likely get a sense of my convictions through individual recipes and asides on these topics.
One of my closest friends was kind enough to ask me to guest blog about my culinary experiences in a Blissful Eats section every Thursday on her beautiful “Bliss“. This has not only given me a chance to get my feet wet, but it has also given me time to think about where to begin with my own blog. To be honest, I’ve spent a fair amount of time pondering my first recipe. Too long. I finally decided to go with what I was really wanting to eat today– this Classic Lemon Tart. I have so many organic lemons right now– I’ve taken to stockpiling these babies.
I first sampled this lemon tart three years ago. We had a dinner party and one of our friends– a fellow ‘foodie’– brought this incredible dessert. I was stunned, and had to have the recipe immediately. I realize that writing about one’s experience of food– trying to convey it to others– is usually imperfect. The words just can’t capture the “punch” of a really powerful flavor, or the “silkiness” of creamy filling. So how to describe this tart? It’s intense. Seriously intense. The “jolt” of lemon in every bite is incredible. You almost question whether or not its made from some super-distilled extract, though the natural flavor of the juice and zest of the lemons reassures you that you’re eating the real thing. And then there’s the color. If you use farm-fresh free-range egg yolks, the natural deep yellow color will be stunning.
In the past, I’ve tended to reserve this stellar dessert for special occasions– not because it’s difficult, but because it’s a real show-stopper. It’s beautiful and light with a flaky crust, making it perfect for Spring. On the other hand, while we still have several feet of snow on the ground, it sure made my family happy this afternoon, too. Come to think of it, I may not wait for a holiday or dinner party to make this one any more. Why not brighten even an ordinary, everyday?
The Recipe: Classic Lemon Tart
Sweet Tart Pastry:
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter ( 1 stick, very cold), cut into twenty-four 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour for dusting
Whisk together the yolk, cream, and vanilla in a small bowl; set aside. Pulse to combine 1 1/4 cups flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture; pulse to cut butter into flour until mixture resembles course meal, about fifteen 1-second pulses. With the machine running, add egg mixture and process until dough just comes together, about 25 seconds. Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and press into 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
If the dough feels too firm when you’re ready to roll it out, let it stand at room temperature for a few minutes. If, on the other hand, the dough becomes soft and sticky while rolling, don’t hesitate to re-chill it until it becomes easier to work with. Better to re-chill than add too much flour, which will damage the delicate, crisp texture of the dough. Bake the tart in a 9 – 9 1/2 -inch tart pan with a removable bottom and fluted sides about 1 to 1 1/8 inches high.
Unwrap dough; lightly flour large sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap and place dough in center. Roll out dough and line tart pan. Freeze dough 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, adjust one oven rack to upper-middle position and other to lower-middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Place chilled tart shell on a cookie sheet; press 12-inch square of foil inside tart shell and fill with metal or ceramic pie weights ( I skipped the pie weights and just placed the foil down on the tart, which worked fine, because it was chilled). Bake on lower rack for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. Carefully remove foil and weights by gathering edges of foil and pulling up and out. Transfer cookie sheet with tart shell to upper rack and continue to bake until shell is golden brown, about 5 minutes longer.
The Lemon Tart:
1 fully baked warm tart shell (9 to 9 1/2 inch)
7 large egg yolks, preferably organic
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup freshly -squeezed lemon juice, preferably organic, from 4 – 5 medium lemons
1/4 cup grated lemon zest
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Once the lemon curd ingredients have been combined, cook the curd immediately; otherwise it will have a grainy finished texture. To prevent the curd from acquiring a metallic taste, make absolutely sure that all utensils coming into contact with it — bowls, whisk, saucepan, and strainer — are made of non-reactive stainless steel or glass. Since the tart has a removable bottom, it is more easily maneuvered when set on a cookie sheet. If your pre-baked tart has already cooled, place it in the oven just before you start the curd and heat until warm, about 5 minutes.
Adjust the oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Place the tart pan with shell on cookie sheet.
In medium non-reactive bowl, whisk together yolks and whole eggs until combined, about 5 seconds. Add sugar and whisk until just combined, about 5 seconds. Add lemon juice, zest, and salt; whisk until combined, about 5 seconds. Transfer mixture to medium non-reactive saucepan, add butter pieces, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until curd thickens to thin sauce-like consistency and registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Immediately pour curd through single-mesh steel strainer set over clean non-reactive bowl. Stir in heavy cream; pour curd into warm tart shell immediately.
Bake until filling is shiny and opaque and until center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Serve with freshly whipped cream. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today– I always appreciate feedback, so please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts. See you soon!