TWD #7 The league of extraordinary… tarts?
Sean Connery (there is no other 007) can do no wrong… until The League of Extraordinary Men. T and I rarely agree on movies so I knew this movie was horrible when we both agreed that we didn’t care to finish it and flipped the DVD player off to find greener channel pastures in TV land. Maybe I put things on a higher standard when the word “extraordinary” is used in the title. So I wasn’t sure what to expect from this extraordinary tart. Would it let me down like Sean Connery or live up to the hype?
Right away things weren’t looking too good. I was sleep deprived, kind of baked out from a cupcake order the day before, lacked a candy thermometer, tart pan and 3 lemons. I was ready to throw in the towel even before I began. But in the end I knew I couldn’t let down the other 100+ TWDers that take time out of their busy lives to make their tart. So I left the “I can’t do this” blues and arrived to the “make it work” Tim Gunn wisdom.
First order of business was figuring out how to get the cutesy fluted edge without the tart pan sitch. *light bulb* Cupcake liner!
What I learned this week:
Sometimes baking requires a gut feeling esp when you don’t have all the modern day gadgets (ie candy thermometer, tart pan) that take the guesswork out of baking. But I think its good to keep me on my toes…
The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart
(Recipe from DGs’ Baking: From my home to yours pages 331-332 | photos from me!)
Isn’t my little tartlette slice so cute? It fit in the palm of my hand!
Makes about 12 cupcake-size tarts
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons (I used 2 lemons)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons) (I used 2 lemons’ juice+bottled lemon juice to make up the rest.)
2 sticks plus 5 Tbsp butter (10-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces, at room temperature.
1 9-inch tart shell made with sweet tart dough
Have a instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (1st 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 fees tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk- you 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 180F, 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 may take as long as 10 minutes.
[NOTES: Many TWDers had problems getting it up to 180F. Since I don’t have a candy thermometer, I relied on Dorie’s description of how the cream should progress. Took me about 15 minutes. I think using a metal bowl helped too.]
As soon as it reaches 180F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the lender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.
[NOTES: I almost skipped the straining step but I am so glad I didn’t. Its worth it for the smooth cream texture. Trust me. Take the time to strain.]
Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, 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 bend 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 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)
[NOTES: I had a good amount of lemon cream leftover so next time I make this I might 1/2 the lemon cream recipe.]
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.
Husband rating: A
He likes lemon but wasn’t expecting this one to be as tart as it was. He still ate 2 of them! :)
Wifey rating: A/A+
ditto hubs. But after the 2nd bite I was hooked. The cream is so silky smooth and the crust is buttery goodness.
Next week: Homemade Marshmallows pages 404-405
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 T) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
Put the flour, 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 fakes and others 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 and dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
[NOTES: I just realized that I was suppose to use 1 yolk but I used the whole egg. oops!]
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, preferable longer, before baking.
[NOTES: I don’t have a tart pan so I used foil cupcake liners.]
To partially or fully bake the crust: center a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
Butter the shiny side of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, against the crust. (since you froze it, 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, carefully press it down with the back of a spoon.
For partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack. To fully bake the crust, bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.