For those of you who are lemon tart fans, you must have heard Pierre Herme's lemon tart. If you haven't, you don't know what you have been missing my friend. The first time I made his lemon tart was actually about two years ago, and yes, it is a long time. But I only made the lemon cream at that time, and I don't remember what recipe I used to make the tart crust.
So this time, I was determined to make his recipe from start to finish. I have two of his books that contains a recipe for his lemon tart. One is Dessert By Pierre Herme, written by Dorie Greenspan. This book is modified to suit American home bakers. The amount of the recipe is written in cups, and tablespoons, which I don't really like as it is not accurate. But Dorie made the recipe sounds a lot easier. The other book I have is La Patsserie De Pierre Herme (the link is for the Spanish ed.). It contains Pierre's original recipe and has both French and English translation in it although the direction is very sparse. You have to scale down the recipe by a lot though, unless you are feeding an army with your cake :D. There are a couple of cakes featured in both books, although the recipe is somewhat different. It is a lot more complicated and some of the ingredients are hard to find here in the US. Dorie does make it A LOT easier on the other book, although it is not 100% PH original I guess. But it is more than enough if you want to re-create Pierre's recipes at home.
It took me approximately two nights and two mornings to make this from start to finish. I started by making the pate sucree for the tart crust. The crust is wonderful as it has vanilla bean in it, and a little almond flour for that extra texture. I made it with my faithful Kitchen Aid mixer, make the job a lot easier. You can also use a food processor, but the idea of cleaning it up doesn't really excites me. Cleaning the mixer bowl is a lot easier :D.
The pate sucree is pretty simple to make once you get all the ingredients ready. With the help of my trusty Kitchen Aid, it's a breeze to make. You can't make only for a single crust though. You will need to make at least the amount enough for three crusts to get the best texture. I halved the recipe from PH book.
I brought this tart to work of course, to thank my coworker for bringing me this wonderful gift (well, he kinda expected me to make something with it when he gave it to me anyway :D). I emailed him and a few other friends that I left it in the fridge. A couple of minutes later, they came to my cube saying everything is gone already. I didn't witnessed that, but from what I heard, they all liked it very much. I even had people (who weren't in my email list) saying how good it was, another also emailed me (not in my list as well) to thank me personally and to tell me how superb it was. He even asked me if I worked at a bakery before, hahaha (I'll take that as a compliment). Some other friends came to my cube 5 minutes later and said that he didn't get any. All he found was just the empty box. Hmm... I guess they did like it :).
Fortunately, I made a mini version of the tart and save it for myself and I completely agree with them (and also the rest of the world for that matter) that it was indeed wonderful. My niece and nephew kept coming back for more. I just wished I saved more :D
My piping is not that great. I was pretty dissapointed with how it looks (despite all of the compliments I got of how pretty it looks) :(
yield: three 101/2-in crusts or four 8-in crusts
300g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
190g powdered sugar
60g ground almonds
1 vanilla bean, scrapped
2 eggs, room temperature
500g all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
- Put the butter in a mixer bowl and cream until smooth and creamy using a paddle attachment.
- Add the sugar, ground almonds, and vanilla bean seeds. Mix until combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating the previous one before adding the next one (the dough might look curdled at this point but don't worry, it'll come together once you add the flour)
- Combine the flour and salt. Add to the dough in about three addition. Mix until just it comes together. Do not overwork! Like Pierre said, "it's better to have lumps of butter rather than to have an overwork dough".
- Divide the dough in the portions you need. Form each one into a ball and flatten it into a disk. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight (you can also freeze the dough at this point and thaw it in the fridge overnight).
- Remove one disk from the fridge, and roll it either between two sheets of parchment paper, or just well-floured surface. You need to move quickly though. You don't want the dough to be soft and overworked.
- Line your tart pan with the dough and put it back in the fridge for at least 1-2 hrs to rest.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- When you're ready to bake, put a parchment paper on top of the dough and fill the bottom with either rice or beans.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Take the parchment paper and the beans/rice off, then continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes until it's golden brown.
- Let cool in the ring.
Slightly adapted from La Pattiserie de Pierre Herme book.
You can view the recipe that Dorie has modified to American home kitchen here
165 g fresh meyer lemon juice
200 g sugar
zest from about 3-4 lemons
300 g unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
- Rub the zest with the sugar using your finger until the sugar is moistened with lemon oil.
- On a double boiler, combine the sugar, eggs and juice .
- Whisk/stir constantly until the mixture reaches 85-86 C.
- Strain the mixture and let cool to about 55-60 C and put it in a blender (if you don't have a hand-held blender)
- Add the butter a couple of pieces at a time, to make an emulsion. The mixture will ligthen in color. Continue running the blender for a few minutes after all of the butter has been added to ensure the airy and light cream. Make sure stop and run the blender a few times to avoid over-heating.
- Pour the mixture into prepared crust and refrigerate.
3 egg whites, room temperature
150 g sugar
50 g water
- Combine the water and the sugar in a saucepan and bring the temperature to about 247 F on a candy thermometer. Brush the splatter on the sides using pastry brush that has been dipped in cold water to prevent crystallization.
- Meanwhile, beat the egg white until soft peak forms.
- When the sugar is ready, with the mixer running on a low speed, pour the hot sugar syrup on the side of the mixer bowl to avoid splatter (it will splatter eventually a little). Do not attempt to scrape the splatter on the sides of the bowl or you'll get lumps.
- Continue beating on a medium high speed until the meringue is almost at room temperature. The texture will be marshmallow-y, as light as cloud.
- Decorate the tart with meringue.
- Brown the top with blow torch or under a broiler for a few minutes.
Not wanting to trash more of the lemons, I decided to zest and juice them up and freeze it. I got a little more than 6 cups of juice and about 1 cup full of zest. I don't have to worry about not having lemons in spring or summer for desserts now. And I know exactly who to go to if I ever ran out of them :)
This tart is also my entry for Lemon Day event hosted by zorra at kochtopf.twoday.net
Here's the link the her post:
I hope I will have more time in the next few weeks to come up with more lemony desserts :D