I love San Francisco. I really do. The boyfriend and I make sure we head up there at LEAST once a year. Sometimes, through circumstances, I find myself chowing down on an Ike’s vegan Menage a Trois and slurpin’ lavender ice cream at Bi-Rite probably twice or three times a year. San Fran is our guilty pleasure and we love finding new places to fill our tummies every time we go.
During one of our trips last year, we took on the always long line at Tartine’s Bakery & Cafe. We heard many, many good things about their morning buns, so we wanted to try that out initially. However, as long as the line was, all the other pastries and baked goods sitting in the display cases were quite tempting. We decided to grab a lemon tart and banana cream tart, for good measure.
We actually didn’t end up eating any of those tarts until several hours later once we got back home to Los Angeles. After a couple hours in the car, a 1.5 hour plane ride, and a couple more hours after being hastily placed in my fridge… we finally got to try the lemon cream. And let me tell you… it tasted AMAZING! Smushed whipped cream and all. We instantly regretted not getting a half dozen of those babies. I was in love. I dreamt about the day I got my hands on it again.
Fast forward to December, when I received my precious Kitchen Aid mixer as a Christmas gift from the boyfriend. I was making a mental list of all the things I could make with my new toy and an idea struck — LEMON CREAM TARTS! I perused the internet and lo’ and behold, Tartine sold cookbooks which contained the recipe for their famous lemon tarts. My excitement could not be contained.
I finally tackled the recipe, thinking that the end results would be just something similar to the original. Oh man, I was wrong. The cream tasted just like the original and it took a bit of willpower to not eat spoonfuls of the stuff from my blender.
Now, this isn’t really a beginner recipe. I get really intimidated when a recipe calls for dough rolling and usually I don’t tackle such stuff. But this was an exception. So worth it!
Tartine’s Lemon Cream Tart Recipe
Tools required: mixer, regular or immersion blender, rolling pin, tart pans
Sweet Tart Dough
(makes four 9-inch tart shells or twelve 4-inch tartlet shells)
1 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter – room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs – room temperature
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, and salt and mix on medium speed until smooth.
Mix in 1 egg. Add the remaining egg and mix until smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the flour all at once and mix on low speed until incorporated.
On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 4 equal balls and shape each ball into a disk 1/2 inch thick. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. (You can also freeze them for future use. They can keep for 3 weeks.)
To line a tart pan, place a dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll out 1/8 inch thick, rolling from the center toward the edge in all directions. Lift and rotate the dough a quarter turn after every few strokes, dusting underneath as necessary to discourage sticking, and work quickly to prevent the dough from becoming warm. Cut out a circle 2 inches larger than the pan. If the dough is still cool, carefully transfer the circle to the pan, easing it into the bottom and sides and then pressing gently into place. If the dough has become too soft to work with, put it in the refrierator for a few minutes to firm up before transferring it to the pan. If the dough develops any tears, just patch with a little extra dough, pressing firmly to adhere. Trim the dough level with the top of the pan with a sharp knife. Place the pastry shell in the refrigerator or freezer until it is firm, about 15 minutes.
To line tartlet shells, roll out the dough in the same way, cut out circles according to the size of your pans, and line the pans. The rest of the dough, including the scraps, can be frozen for future use.
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dock the bottom of the tart shell or tartlet shells with a fork or the tip of a knife, making tiny holes 2 inches apart. Place in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes for a partially baked large shell or 5-7 minutes for tartlet shells. The pastry should be lightly colored and look dry and opaque.
Let cool completely on wire racks. The pastry shells will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
makes about 2.5 cups
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp lemon juice
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup unsalted butter
Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches into a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer.
Combine lemon juice, whole eggs, yolk, sugar and salt in a stainless steel bowl on top of the double boiler. Whisk ingredients constantly for 10-12 minutes until the mixture becomes very thick and registers 180 degrees Fahrenheit on a thermometer (if you don’t have a thermometer, just whisk until the mixture leaves a trail when you move the whisk through it. It should became opaque and pale yellow)
Remove the bowl from over the water and stir from time to time to release the heat.
Meanwhile, cut butter into 1 tbsp pieces. When the cream is ready and cooled, using either a regular or immersion blender, add 1 piece of butter at a time to the lemon mixture, blending after each addition of butter. The cream will become a pale yellow and very thick.
You can use the cream immediately, or store it into an air-tight container (I used a mason jar) and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Have the tart shell ready and cool for filling. Pour the lemon cream into the cooled tart shell. Shake gently to smooth out the top. Chill the tart until firm, about 2 hours.
Top with whipped cream! The cream cuts through the tartness of the lemon wonderfully. I chose to make my own whipped cream (1 cup heavy cream and 4 tsp of vanilla syrup — Starbucks recipe!).