Monday, April 29, 2013

Whole Lemon Tart (ala Smitten Kitchen)

As the Dessert Dash coordinator for Annika's school auction, it seemed only fitting that I should actually make a dessert. In fact, I've donated cakes over the past two years and decided this was a good time to jump in as a volunteer on the committee. As the coordinator, I saw just how many cakes people signed up to donate, which made me start thinking outside of the cake box (hahaha!) when deciding what I should make.

The idea of checking the Smitten Kitchen blog struck fairly quickly, so I took a stroll through her dessert section. A few of items jumped out as possible contenders, but then I came across the Whole Lemon Tart recipe and a little choir of angels sang in my ears... ok, not really, but I was inspired nonetheless!

Before making it for the auction, I decided doing a trial run was the smart choice. Eric's best friend and his daughter came over for dinner last night, so I made the tart as our dessert. I didn't use the tart crust recommended in the recipe; instead, I used the tart crust recipe that I learned in the pie-making class I took awhile back at a local baking shop/culinary classroom. I knew it was tried and true ... and mighty tasty.

The thing about this tart recipe that caught my attention was the entire lemon (minus the seeds) is used... not just some zest and the juice, but THE WHOLE LEMON! Per the recipe, I sliced it (thin) and then put it (along with sugar and butter) in the food processor bowl and let 'er rip until everything is pureed! Talk about easy! After the initial whirl, I added the remaining ingredients and then poured the batter into my pre-baked tart shell. The biggest stress was wondering if the tart would be cool enough to serve for dinner (I didn't start the baking process until after we got home from the kids' swim lessons a smidge before 3!

The recipe couldn't have been easier and turned out mighty nicely. The lemon flavor was present but not overpoweringly tart. (In fact, I think I'll add a bit more lemon zest when I make it for the auction) I think Eric put it best when he said the tart reminded him of the lemon bars that I make.

I forgot to take a picture of the whole tart, so this single piece will have to suffice ... it
was the last man standing after I  took the leftover tart to work this morning.

Whole Lemon Tart (ala Smitten Kitchen)

Loosely inspired by a version from the Paris pastry shop, Rollet-Pradier

  • 1 partially baked 9-inch Great Unshrinkable Tart Shell, or your favorite sweet tart shell
  • 1 average-sized lemon (about 4 1/2 ounces; 130 grams), rinsed and dried*
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
  • 1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (14 grams) cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven 350°F (165´C). Place the tart shell on a baking sheet, which you can line with foil or parchment paper to make any spills a breeze to clean up.

Slice the lemon into thin wheels, remove any seeds, and toss the rounds — lemon flesh and peel — sugar and chunks of butter into the container of a food processor. Process, scraping down the sides of the container as needed, until the lemon is thoroughly pureed. Add the eggs, cornstarch and salt and pulse until the batter is smooth.

Pour into prepared tart shell. It will fill it completely but if due to slight variances in tart pans, egg sizes, lemon sizes or crust thickness, you have too much, do not pour it past the top of of your crust or it will become difficult to unmold later.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the filling is set. You can test this by bumping the pan a little; it should only jiggle slightly. In my oven, I find that the point at which the filling is set is also when it starts to get very light brown on top.

Let cool on rack, unmold tart pan and serve. I actually prefer this tart completely chilled, which makes it a great dessert to make in advance of a dinner or party.

* Meyer lemons are the first choice here. They’re milder with thinner skin. But if you know that you do not mind a stronger lemon and rind kick, feel free to use a regular lemon, which will have a stronger flavor and a higher proportion of skin to flesh. If your lemon is not 4 1/2 ounces (Meyers often weigh in closer to 4 ounces) go ahead and cut a wedge out of a second one to keep the lemon flavor in balance with the sweetness of the tart.

No comments: