The grass. It’s high.
It’s grown past “maybe they’re on vacation” to “maybe we could have the front yard declared a wildlife preserve.”
What brought us to this shameful state? Stomach flu. Sinus infections. And a push mower that spontaneously combusted after two rows. Two horizontal rows right in front of the house. It looks like we cut a path with a machete. Or tethered a baby goat to the front door.
But finally, after days of scratchy throats and sniffling, we woke up with the amazing ability to breathe through both nostrils, for which we are truly grateful. And we probably have Dorie’s Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart to thank. Benadryl didn’t work. Sudafed didn’t work. But juicing five lemons–that worked.
The tart, like our yard, has room for improvement. The crumbly, shortbread-cookie crust would be even better with ground macadamia nuts and maybe a little shredded coconut. And the lemon cream is so pungent, I wish I’d topped it with a little whipped cream. Because what this recipe needs is more dairy fat.
As for the lawn, we were feeling so good last night, we bought a new push mower. Right now, it’s all potential, but as soon as I get my sneakers on, the hobbits in the front yard better run for cover.
The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”
- 1 cup sugar
- Grated zest of 3 lemons
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
- 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons 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, fully baked and cooled (recipe below)
- Have an instant read thermometer, a strainer and a blender 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 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 whisk until the cream reaches 180 degrees F. It will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.
- Remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the blender; discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.
- Turn the blender to high and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Keep the machine going for another 3 minutes.
- Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- To assemble the tart, whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell.
Sweet Tart Dough
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg yolk
- Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor, and pulse to combine.
- Add the butter and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in.
- Stir the yolk, and add it a little at a time, processing in long pulses—about 10 seconds each—until the dough forms clumps and curds.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients.
- 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. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. (If the crust has puffed, press it down with the back of a spoon.) Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.