28 January 2012


Well, hello, blog. It's been a while.

It's been far longer than I intended, but when Major Life Stuff intervened, I thought it would be better to just take a break entirely and wait until I was able to hit the reset button on my life before I started back up.

Frankly, you didn't miss much. I did a bit of holiday baking, but not nearly as much as I usually do. Since the dust settled a few weeks ago, though, I've been getting to know my kitchen again. Spending some leisurely time cooking has reminded me of just how therapeutic it is. Whether I'm clanging pots in frustration or chopping up vegetables while humming off-tune, there's rarely a day that isn't improved by some time cooking.

And when it's winter in Los Angeles and Meyer lemons are four for a dollar, there's really no excuse not to make something delicious.

Meyer lemon cream tart

(While L.A. winter may not offer me the cold weather that I love, it does get dark early, which means terrible photos for a few more weeks— my apologies.)

I think I've made it clear that I'm a big fan of Dorie Greenspan. Her cookbooks are absolutely loaded with fantastic recipes, she always has variations (that sometimes sound even better than the original), and I haven't yet found an error. However, I would return every recipe I've ever tried—I might be willing to give up every recipe idea I've ever gotten from her—as long as I could keep the lemon cream recipe.

She credits Pierre Hermé, pâtissier extraordinaire, with the recipe; the man should have a monument in his honor somewhere in central Paris. Lemon cream is similar to lemon curd, but the butter is left out of the original mixture. Sugar, lemon juice, zest, and eggs are whisked in a double boiler until thickened. Once cooled a bit, the mixture is whizzed in a blender or food processor and softened butter is added. The butter emulsified, the curd lightens in color, and the whole shebang becomes light, creamy, and not nearly as rich as something with nearly three sticks of butter should be.

I've probably made this tart a dozen times in the last few years, but a couple weeks ago I decided to change it up. After all, when life gives you lemons ... get the blueberries out of the freezer.

lemon cream tart with blueberries

Lemon Cream-Blueberry Tart
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

I almost exclusively use Meyer lemons for this now, but I have made it with Eureka lemons before; if your lemons are very tart, you may wish to add a bit more sugar. Also, this is a big recipe, but nothing is difficult. The cream is a little bit fiddly, but well worth the effort, and crust, blueberries, and lemon cream can each be made ahead of time. Ideally, though, the tart should be assembled the same day it will be eaten.

For the crust:
5 ounces unbleached flour (1 ¼ cups)
½ cup finely ground almonds
2 ounces confectioners' sugar (½ cup)
¼ teaspoon salt
4.5 ounces unsalted butter, well chilled and in several pieces (9 tablespoons)
1 large egg yolk

For the lemon cream:
7 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup)
zest of 3 Meyer lemons
4 large eggs
¾ cup Meyer lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
10.5 ounces butter, in pieces, at room temperature (21 tablespoons)

For the blueberry filling:
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries (use the best you can find)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or cornstarch)

For the crust, whiz the flour, almonds, sugar, and salt together in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until it is a oatmeal/pea consistency (this won't take long - just a few seconds). Add the yolk in a few drizzles, pulsing briefly each time, then pulse in 10-second increments until the dough just comes together—listen for the funny noise the processor makes, which means it's almost ready.

Press the dough quickly into a 9 or 10 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Butter the shiny side of a piece of foil and press it over the surface of the tart, then transfer to the freezer for at least half an hour. I usually make it a day ahead. (Note: you really should save a little bit of dough in the fridge in case your crust cracks, but I never bother with this; just fair warning.)

To make the lemon cream, set some water to simmer. Also, have a strainer handy next to your blender or food processor. In a bowl that can be set over (not in) the simmering water, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Rub it together until the sugar is moist and fragrant, then whisk in the eggs and lemon juice. Set the bowl over the water and whisk from time to time until warm, then whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 180ºF (if you're not using a thermometer, which I will admit to plenty of the time, it will be rather thick, like lemon curd, and relatively hot to the touch). Immediately strain the mixture into the blender or food processor, discarding the solids. Let the cream stand until cooled a bit, about 5-10 minutes). Put the lid on the machine and set the speed to high. Add the butter pieces in about 4 additions, stopping to scrape the sides if needed. After all the butter is added, keep the machine on high for three more minutes. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, press some plastic against the surface, and transfer to the fridge to chill completely, 4 hours to overnight.

Meanwhile, make the blueberry sauce. Combine the blueberries and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Stir the sugar and starch together in a little bowl, then mix with the fruit. Heat over medium heat until the mixture is thickened and the blueberries are beginning to break down, about 10 minutes. Chill until you are ready to assemble the tart.

To bake the crust, preheat the oven to 375ºF. Put the tart on a baking sheet, leaving the foil on, and bake 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil. Press down any puffy bits, then return the tart to the oven for 8-10 minutes more, until golden brown. The edges of my crusts usually brown long before the rest of it, so you want to keep an eye on it and cover the edges with foil if necessary. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

Spread the blueberry mixture across the bottom of the tart, leaving about ¼ inch at the edges. Quickly whisk the cream to loosen it, then scrape it into the crust, spreading it carefully over the blueberries. Spread it up to the edges, swirl it around until it's pretty (or at least somewhat so). You can cut and serve immediately, but for best results, refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to let the lemon cream set a bit.

Serves 8

1 comment :

  1. That looks incredible! The husband doesn't like blueberries, but I bet this would be amazing with raspberries or blackberries... hmmm, I think I'll have to try them all!

    Thank you for posting the recipe!