Lemon Tart Part 2: Disaster

I have baking disasters. Sometimes my cakes lean to the left. Sometimes my souffles fall. Sometimes my meringues weep. And sometimes my lemon tarts refuse to set and then decide to exude half of the un-set curd onto my lap while driving to a barbeque.

Usually I am more cautious of recipes. If it's from a source I haven't tried before and doesn't include comments gloating success I won't bother with it, especially when it comes to fancy desserts. And certainly, I wouldn't normally plan on bringing the results of a new finicky tart recipe from a somewhat unreliable source to the house of the culinary Gods that are my boyfriend's parents. At least not without some back-up brownies. But that is exactly what I did. The recipe just seemed so cool. It takes a whole lemon (juice! pith! peel!), purees it with some sugar, some eggs, some butter, and some cornstarch and - voila! Lemon Tart.

It wasn't a complete disaster. After getting it to their house, we put it in their fridge and by the time we were done dinner it was set-ish. It still leaked out of it shell when sliced but with the viscosity of, say, ketchup not lemon juice as before. The good news is the flavour is amazing. Super lemony and bright and not too sweet. It's not all gelatinous like many recipes and has a really pleasant lemony texture. Plus it can almost be justified as healthy because it has the pith and skin which hold the most nutrients (so maybe not healthy, but nutrient-rich, certainly).

Omar was concerned about this recipe from the start.

So, in the end, I definitely think I will make it again. But with less butter becasue it did look a little greasy. And I would definitely calculate enough time to let it cool properly and then sit in the fridge for a few hours before transporting it. It'd also like to try it with blood oranges. And maybe a hazelnut or almond crust. There is definitely some potential with this recipe. I have a feeling that when it works out, it's the best lemon tart ever.

I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and she stole it from a cookbook, where it was adapted from Rollet-Pradier. They all seem to think it works, and they are all much more skilled than I am, so it's wholly possible you will have more success with it than I did. But at any rate, proceed with caution (and back-up brownies).

Whole-Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron)

Stolen from Smitten Kitchen, adapted from Rollet-Pradier, Paris via Paris Sweets, Dorie Greenspan

1 partially baked 9-inch (24-cm) tart shell
1 average-sized lemon (about 4 1/2 ounces; 130 grams), rinsed and dried
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tablespoons (12 grams) cornstarch
1 stick (4 ounces; 115 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven 325°F (165°C). Line a trimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and put the tart shell on the sheet.

Slice the lemon into thin wedges, remove the seeds, and toss the lemon and sugar into the container of a blender or food processor. Blend or process, scraping down the sides of the container as needed, until the lemon is thoroughly pureed and blended with the sugar, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the mixture into a bowl and, using a whisk, gently stir in the whole egg and the yolk, followed by the cornstarch and melted butter. Pour the filling into the crust.

Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake the tart for 20 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 C) and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and lightly browned. Transfer the tart, still on the baking sheet, to a cooling rack and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before removing it from the pan. The tart is ready to be served when it reaches room temperature.

(The tart is best served the day it is made, but, if necessary, it can be kept in the refrigerator overnight; bring to cool room temperature before serving.)


Shari said...

This looks soo great! Nothing like a good lemon tart!

Bitter Endive said...

Thanks! Hopefully I'll have better luck the next time.

Nachiketa said...


love your tart, great attempt... so pretty to look n must be yummy to eat, after setting.
Loved surprising my friends with these :) Lemon Cake, Lemon Tarts ~ Happy Anniversary Shikha & Sujith n Surprise for Sharad

The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts - Nachiketa
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