Tuesday, May 12, 2009

{TWD} Tartest Lemon Tart

For 10 months I've had an abiding preoccupation with lemon tarts, specifically since last July 9 when I saw the Deep Lemon Tart on Delia Smith's site . It was love at first sight; I searched for the perfect deep tart mold especially for the recipe (all of my tart molds were shallow). I ended up ordering a lovely deep mold that was a bit smaller in diameter than Delia's, so I scaled the recipe to the smaller pan, making careful notes in the margins of my recipe printout. And then, as it happened, things got in the way - 42 weekly sweet things. I joined TWD in July and here we are nearly a year later and I've still not baked the coveted tart. But lucky for me, Babette of Babette Feasts chose The Tartest Lemon Tart as this week's TWD assignment, so I'm no longer in total lemon tart deprivation. Thank you, Babette for choosing this recipe!

n.o.e.'s notes:

[update: I've had a lot of questions about my deep tart molds. I've ordered them, in several sizes, from PastryItems.com]

- I planned to serve the lemon tart to my book group, so I baked a full recipe. I've never used my little 4" tart molds, so I tried them out.

- The dough yielded 5 mini tart cases that were fairly thick, and I think with a bit of effort, it might have made 6 with a thinner crusts.

- I had 1 Meyer lemon knocking around the produce drawer of my fridge, so I used that in its entirety, pith, zest, and juice, along with 1/2 regular lemon with pith removed.

- I whirled the lemon in the blender with sugarand the rest of the ingredients and then gave it a little taste. I was surprised to find that it wasn't very tart. So I added some more zest, pith, and juice, but what I really wish is that I could have taken some sugar out (and maybe used half and half in place of the cream).

- There was lots of lemon mixture left over after filling the 5 mini tart shells.

- I baked the minis for 15 min at 310 degrees then 15 min at 340 degrees.


- The little tarts came out of oven puffy with a little sugar crust across the top. As they cooled they settled down, jelled, and got dense. I popped them in the fridge overnight.

- The next day it was very difficult to unmold the tarts. Not one of the tarts emerged totally unscathed. Either a piece of crust broke off, or the tart collapsed. I managed to put my thumb through one.

Oops! I guess this one better be mine.
- For a topping, I used the rest of my faux mascarpone and made some more cream filling! This was my first attempt at piping cream. I was in a huge hurry, and didn't realize until too late that the cream wasn't in the center of any of the tarts. Very fun, though.


the verdict:

My tarts were quite lemony but not as tart as I expected. The Meyer lemon was too subtle for my taste; next time I will use regular lemons for the entire filling. My tasters all loved the tarts. One, HY, said that the lemon tart is tied with the pear tart as the best Dorie recipe yet (and she's probably tasted more than half the ones I've baked). Another person, AT, thought the cream topping not really necessary -she loved the lemon by itself. Although I thought the cream complemented the lemon nicely I'm not exactly objective about that mascarpone cream!

As an aside, in addition to the lemon tarts I served the 15 Minute Magic torte (from the freezer), frosted with Sweet Melissa's semisweet ganache (also from the freezer). My tasters were blown away by the torte, couldn't believe it had come from the freezer, and liked it even better than the prune torte!

My husband hadn't been at home when I made the tarts, and he drove straight from work to book group, arriving late, and promptly eating two of the tarts. He didn't realize until we got home that I'd made them - in a complimentary way. But the lemon tarts' glory was short-lived. My husband ended up preferring the Lemon Icebox Cake that I served two days later (but I like the tarts better!)

I would have liked to have eaten this as a slice of a full-sized tart (more lemony filling) rather than minis; my husband thought the little ones were great because of the higher proportion of crust.

These lemon tarts made me want MORE lemon tarts! I hope I can bake Delia's recipe before another 10 months passes... Aaaand, I saw that David Lebovitz posted a lemon tart recipe yesterday, using an unconventional French method of making tart crust that involves boiling butter and water! David's has an elegantly slim layer of lemon curd, very different from Delia's lush deep lemon filling. Oh dear, I guess I'd better make both!

You can find the recipe for Dorie's delicious tarts on Babette's post, or on page 336 of Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home to Yours.

47 comments:

Megan said...

I simply must try the deep lemon tart - lemon is David's favorite.

And it's too bad that my tart was a flop - but it won't stop me from trying another one!

rainbowbrown said...

Lemon tart are really a favorite of mine - I can only imagine a lemon tart spree! This one look great!

natalia said...

Ciao !The minis are very cute ! Too bad they broke ! Lately I love lemons so much !Why don't we open a lemon fans baking group ? LOL

Laura said...

I made only one lemon tart in my life and it was wonderful and very tart. The recipe was from Emily Luchetti's book A Passion for Dessert. Let me know if you would like the recipe, I will pass it along.

Audrey said...

Just from looking at that top picture I can see why your husband may have been confused...On the other hand, we would look at something brought home from Paris and assume you had made it.) And a victory for the 15-minute torte! Now I'm not the only one who liked it better than the pruny one. :)

Babette said...

Well, you've talked me into making Delia's tart...and now I, too, covet the deep tart rings..I think your tarts are lovely.

Amanda said...

Mine looked just as perfect as yours at 45 minutes, but I didn't think it was done so I left it in the oven for a few minutes more and it bubbled over like a volcano. UGH it was still delish though ;)

dharmagirl said...

your mini tarts are adorable! since i love this crust so much, i think i'm with your husband on this one--small tarts=more crust:)

Clivia said...

Your minis look lovely. I'm glad you finally got a lemon tart even if it wasn't the one you planned on.

vibi said...

Mmmm... I love how you decision of making small tarts made them chunkier than most. Just the more appealing!
I'm still not initiated to the whole lemon tart myself though... I chickened out and made supremes added to the zeste. Nothing scares me more than bitterness in food, but I'm glad you were courageous enough...
I just know the lemons gods would not be on my side for that one!!! LOL

myfamousrecipe said...

The deep fluted tart like the one you showed here looks marvelous. That would have been perfect for the chocolate cream tart (more filling!). Your lemon tart is lovely.

Cynthia said...

Nice job - thanks for your insights and comments.

Peggy said...

Nancy I love your mini tarts!! they look so professional. And I love that your thumb went into one - just like that nursery rhyme (little jack horner wasn't it?). My tart was ugly, but it sure tasted good. I think I made it on mother's day and just wasn't in the mood to cook, ya know? Thanks for stopping by this morning. Next time we'll have coffee together! :)

Sweet as Coco said...

Glad Im not the only one with the problem of "un molding"! A well...mine took the photo op wiht the molds! They were so good though!

Eliana said...

Your mini tarts look so good. I actually prefer more crust like your husband so I am probably probably going to make your version of this recipe over the other TWD bakers. Thanks!

Jessica said...

Lovely as always, Miss Nancy. I'm with you on the full size tart. Minis are so cute but the filling sort of gets relegated to the backseat sometimes. I'm glad it was a hit with your tasters!

Teanna said...

I LOVE that you have found so many ways to use the mascarpone cream! My tart was not very tart either - but I think that was because I cheated and removed the pith! Your tartlettes look gorgeous!

Kara said...

Nancy I love your little tarts! I actually used David Leibovitz's "boiled" crust since I had problems with the other - and it turned out great. I highly recommend it. I thought about remaking this as mini-tarts, but I never thought about the crust-to-filling ratio thing, and I admit I'm more about the filling than the crust. Hmmm. Gotta ponder that one! :)

Cathy said...

The one with the thumbprint is my favorite, hands (thumbs?) down. I am so glad that this was a hit with your tasters! Rivaling the french pear tart - now that is saying something. Glad you finally got a lemon tart under your belt - now you'll have a frame of reference for comparing all of those other lemon tarts that you will surely be making between your bread assignments, TWD and SMS assigments, etc. Your tarts look great - LOVE your piping!

Madam Chow said...

I loved these, too. And may I say, I think your family eats mighty well!

MacDuff said...

Love this! I looked high and low for meyer lemons, but couldn't find any. I think they'd definitely make a creamier tart. Next time!

Kayte said...

All this talk of lemon is making me want more lemon tart...and this week, we still have some left as Matt wasn't in the mix of eaters! Your tarts look so elegant and lovely. Who's to know that thumb hole is there after you swirl all that lovely cream on top? That person will get extra whipped cream to fill in the hole! Great job.

Katrina said...

Your tarts look great and one would never know the problems you spoke of. I think your cream piping looks great, too. (I'm no good at that, but aspire to be.) Now I have to go check out these other two lemon tarts you linked because I want more lemon tart, too! Sigh.

Sara said...

So cute. I love all these mini's.

Cristine said...

Deep lemon tart... you have my attention!

Your minis look great!

pinkstripes said...

Your tart looks absolutely gorgeous. Your piping of the mascarpone cream is perfect! I saw David's recipe yesterday. It looks delicious.

Mary Ann said...

I love all the details that you post. My favorite thing is the picture with the finger hole in the tart. That is so funny!
I just tried a tad of the filling, but no one said it was very tart.
They look lovely.
You have a very lucky book club.

Kim said...

I thought these would be better as a large tart as well. The minis just didn't have enough of the lemony goodness.

Fit Chick said...

Nancy, I love your tart pans!!! Need to get some deep ones, I had the regular pans and they did not hold enough filling. Great looking tarts, glad you enjoyed them.

Carol Peterman said...

Your tarts look fantastic! They were too bitter for me and I bet meyer lemon or removing the pith would have made a difference for me. Glad to know about the Sweet Melissa recipes, I just got the book.

Reeni♥ said...

I'm with your husband-I like a high ratio of crust! These look really good. A lemon tart just says Spring!

Kaitlin said...

Nancy, your photos look just gorgeous. And I love your detailed analysis of the recipe.

I would love to try this out with a Meyer lemon as you did - it would definitely cut down on the bitterness of regular lemons.

Joanne said...

I love lemony desserts, I would want mine really tart as well. I would have put my thumb through all of them I'm sure...my guests would have ended up with deconstructed lemon tart!

Steph said...

I love how there are always treats in your freezer. After reading about how how you like to freeze your desserts, I started doing that too! There are only so many cakes I can eat! I'm glad the book club liked the tart

Pamela said...

Beautiful pictures, Nancy! I can't wait to see what tart you bake up next. Fabulous job!

Amber Marie said...

2 lemon desserts in as many days - wow :) The minis look cute. I think minis would be perfect with a really tart filling. Glad all at your book club enjoyed.

Tracey said...

Wow, you're really an expert on lemon tart recipes! I'll have to check out the other ones you mentioned since this one wound up being too bitter for me. I love your mini tarts with the cream piped on top - they're gorgeous!

Tammy said...

your tarts look great. I made minis as well and they were the perfect size!

Di said...

I love your little tarts, even the one with the thumbprint. =) I almost had trouble unmolding my big tart, as well. I think the trouble was the very buttery crust--when refrigerated, the butter on the bottom firms up and sticks to the tart pan. I wish I'd had whipped cream for mine--that looks delicioius!

Jules Someone said...

Those look just gorgeous! I have to say that I'm with the hubs on this one. I loved the crust and would have preferred more of it.

Katiecakes said...

they are so so sweet :)

AmyRuth said...

Oh dear Nancy, I see a swirling whirling lemon tart extravaganza. he he Yours are beautiful! I have another deeper, smaller pan and I'm thinking of giving it a go as well. BTW... you and book group may have to reconsider the name of your "book group." Man, I wish I was a part of the fun. You spoil them, girl!
Thanks for sharing
AmyRuth
PS You sweet husband know a good thing :-)

bakingwiththeboys said...

Everytime I see a deep dish tart pan I shudder with jealousy. I really need to invest in one.

And, you should definitely put the most extraordinary cream tart on your list. I preferred it to this one.

Natashya said...

Hooray for cute little lemon tarts and deep tart pans! You could serve me one with a thumb print in it, I don't mind.

Mermaid Sweets said...

Well your tarts certainly look perfect. And reading your post makes me realize I probably over cooked my mini's but luckily it didn't seem to matter.

TeaLady said...

This tart is EXCELLENT as you told me it would be two weeks ago. But I just made it today. It is a lemony tart, tart, lemony tart. Yours are lovely. I love lemon, so this is a keeper for sure. Blog later.

mike said...

Nancy - these look GREAT! I love your deep dish tart - what brand is it? I have the little 4" standard tarts that DON'T have a removable bottom (imagine how hard those are to dismantle). Hm... did you spray with the floured PAM or Baker's Secret? Or maybe dust with flour? Now I want to try BOTH lemon tarts you mention AND the Lemon Fridge you posted. Thanks for posting them. I'm glad they were enjoyed by all (especially your husband)!