Saturday, March 15, 2008
Strawberry Lemon Curd Tart
I'm so excited! I got my first pint of strawberries from my parents farm this week. (It doesn't take much to excite me) Their berries are just starting to get ripe and in a couple of weeks we'll have more berries than we know what to do with! I've had the berries I froze last year that I used all winter. They're great, but the first fresh berries are something I look forward to all year. After eating a handful, I wanted to use the rest for a dessert. Strawberries and lemon are one of my favorite combos. Sweet and tangy, they just beg to be together. Having just gotten my own copy of Baking with Julia last week, I wanted to make her version of lemon curd. Yes I just got my own copy of Baking with Julia. In the past I've just called mom. She's pulled out her copy that's got pages that have fallen loose in the middle from use, and given me Julia's recipes. I decided a few weeks ago that I really needed my own copy, so having just gotten it, I wanted to break it in. In Julia's version of lemon curd, you use the whole egg rather than just the egg yolk. The end result is a very fluffy almost creamy, lemon curd. It's really wonderful!
I like Dori Greenspan's sweet tart dough. It's easy and always great. So after making the tart dough I filled it with the lemon curd and chilled it for several hours then topped the tart with the strawberries and freshly whipped cream. Perfection! The lemon curd recipe makes quite a bit. I had some leftover so I guess I'll just have to make some blueberry muffins or scones to use it up. Poor me! Check out other great strawberry recipes at the Strawberry Seduction round-up at Mike's Table.
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
grated zest of one lemon
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temp cut into 8 pieces
Choose a saucepan that will hold the bowl from your mixer (or a heat proof mixing bowl) in a double-boiler arrangement. Fill the pan with 2 to 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer.
Put the eggs and sugar in the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip at high speed until very light and fluffy. Still whisking, add the lemon juice and zest. Set the bowl in the saucepan, making sure the the bottom of the bowl does not touch the simmering water, and cook the mixture, whisking constantly by hand until smooth, thick , and custardlike. Be patient; this can take a while. Remove bowl from saucepan and whisk in butter piece by piece. Cover the curd with plastic wrap pressed to the top, and refrigerate until chilled and set. I put mine right into my pre-baked tart shell and refrigerated until set. Don't stir the curd again once it's set. After the curd set I topped the tart with the strawberries that I had hulled. Then finished with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Sweet Dough Crust
- makes enough for one 9-inch crust -
from Baking From My Home to Yours.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk lightly beaten
1. Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in—you should have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses—about 10 seconds each—until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change—heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
2. To roll or press the dough into the pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.
If you want to roll the dough, chill it for about 2 hours before rolling (unless you've used frozen butter and the dough comes out of the processor firm and cold, in which case you can roll it immediately). I find it easiest to roll this dough out between two sheets of plastic film – make sure to peel away the film frequently, so it doesn't get rolled into the dough.
If you want to use the press-in method, you can work with the dough as soon as it's processed. Just press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Don't be too heavy-handed – press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but don't press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture.
3. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
4. To fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
5. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) 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 gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn't have a lot of flavor. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature.