Recipe: Tartine Bakery's Lemon Cream Tart

Tartine Bakery's Lemon Cream Tart will always hold a special place in my heart. It dazzled me the first time I ate it and I was downright tickled when I got the chance to have a hand in making it when I worked at Tartine. This creamy-tangy tart is also one of those "almost too pretty to eat desserts." We would top it with a quenelle of fluffy whipped cream or torched meringue and pretty little edible flowers. I always felt proud to put those beauties in the display case. I'd reckon (yes "reckon," I've been watching too much Westworld) you'd feel pretty proud of yourself too if you made it. Best to try it out and see.

Tartine Bakery's Lemon Cream Tart
Recipe from Tartine Bakery Cookbook
Yield: 1, 9-inch tart

For The Tart Dough
(makes 2, 9-inch tart shells)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For The Lemon Cream
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

Whipped Cream Topping
1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream
2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
Swiss Meringue Topping
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup egg whites

Directions - Dough
1.  Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, and salt and mix on medium speed until smooth.
2.  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.
3.  Add the flour all at once and mix on low speed until incorporated.
4.  On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 2 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.)
5.  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 refrigerator 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 or the palm or your hand. Place the pastry shell in the refrigerator or freezer until it is firm, about 15 minutes.
6.  Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
7.  Dock the bottom of the tart shell or tart shells with a fork or the tip of a knife, making tiny holes 2 inches apart. Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. The pastry should be lightly colored and look dry and opaque.
8.  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.

Directions - Lemon Cream
1.  Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches into a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer.
2.  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)
3.  Remove the bowl from over the water and stir from time to time to release the heat.
4.  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.
5.  You can use the cream immediately, or store it into an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. If you decide to store it for later use, you will need to warm it up again in a bowl over a bain marie until the texture becomes thinner and smoother before pouring into shell.

Directions - Whipped Cream Topping
Whip cream and sugar on high until soft-stiff peaks form.

Directions - Swiss Meringue
1.  Whisk together sugar and egg whites over bain marie until temperature reaches 120 degrees.
2.  Transfer to mixer with a whisk attachment and mix until stiff peaks form

Assembling Tart:
Have the tart shell ready and cool for filling. Pour the lemon cream into the cooled tart shell. Chill the tart until firm, about 2 hours. Top with a quenelle or sexy dollop of whipped cream or swiss meringue. If topping with meringue, hit it with a blow torch for a toasty taste and look.