I just about had a breakdown yesterday. After a stressful day, I began my nightly ritual of opening the girls backpacks, sorting their papers, reading notes from their teachers and repacking for the next morning. It’s during this attempt at organization that I take note of important dates and update my calendar.
Between field trips, field day, music programs, extra dance classes before recital, birthday parties and softball practice (because you know, we coach both girls’ teams in our “free” time) my calendar was suddenly very, VERY full. Like, panic-inducing, how-the-heck-are-we-going-to-do-this, full. FULL.
I know this isn’t earth-shattering to many of you, we all juggle our own schedules, kids, pets, careers – but man, it was just about enough to do me in. And I’m not one to complain about being busy – I thrive on it. I love to be busy. For me, busy represents a full, happy life.
Is it bad that my first thought is, “When am I going to have time to bake? To blog?” I need those things (and you guys) in my life, so lets just say that I’ve recently invested in some good photography equipment that will let me photograph my recipes at 2am if need be. Who needs sleep, right?
So yes, life is a bit busy right now, but I promise I will do my best to stay with you during the next few weeks and share as much as I can. And really, since I bake when I’m stressed, I might even blog more than usual. You know, to simplify things. Makes sense, no?
Sensible or not, this exact tart was the result of a late-night “stress-bake.” My latest copy of America’s Test Kitchen was staring at me one night, so it just happened. And I’m glad it did because it is just fantastic. Clearly I’m a lemon-fan (the fruit is the namesake for my blog, after all) but I actually find it pretty difficult to find a good lemon recipe. Since lemon recipes always rely heavily on egg yolks, it’s hard to find a lemony dessert that doesn’t taste like eggs. This one, though, is the perfect balance of tart and sweet.
And because the perfect lemon tart wasn’t enough, I whipped up a fresh blackberry syrup reduction to drizzle over the top. (And maybe I made blackberry martinis after that, but a stress-martini session is on an entirely different level than a stress-baking session, so we’ll just stick with the baking portion here okthankyouverymuch.)
I could (and did) drink the blackberry syrup straight. Amazing. Like, best-thing-EVER, amazing. I even made my girls a blackberry italian soda with a bit of cream and holy cow. Even if you don’t like lemon, just try the syrup and find something, ANYTHING, to drizzle it on. Pancakes, waffles, toast, whatever. So. GOOD.
Because this is an America’s Test Kitchen recipe, you know it’s going to be amazing, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Their recipe is fantastic and self-explanatory, but here are a few of my tips that I found useful while I was making it:
- I used a rectangle tart pan, but if you have one of the 9-inch pans, that works too.
- A candy thermometer is very helpful to achieve the perfect consistency. They are relatively inexpensive and I use mine all of the time.
- Don’t overbake your crust. Go for a pale, golden brown color. Overbaking will yield a crispy crust, I aimed for soft and crumbly.
- Dust with some powdered sugar for a pretty effect.
- Make sure your dough is thoroughly chilled before rolling, and roll it quickly. It’s a very delicate dough.
- Cut it into triangles. It’s pretty.
I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. Enjoy!
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ¼" pieces and chilled
- 2 large eggs plus 7 large yolks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup grated lemon zest
- ⅔ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (will need about 4 lemons)
- pinch of salt
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 pound fresh blackberries
- ½ cup sugar (or more, to taste)
- 2 Tablespoons water
- Juice from one lemon
- In a medium saucepan, bring the blackberries, sugar, water, and lemon juice to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer until berries are falling apart and sauce has thickened just a bit, 10-15 minutes
- Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve, pushing to extract all of the liquid from the berries. Transfer to the refrigerator; sauce will thicken as it chills.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolk, cream and vanilla.
- In a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt. Pulse to combine.
- Add chilled butter to food processor, and pulse until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Don't overpulse, you'll melt the butter.
- With processor on low, add the egg mixture until the dough just comes together.
- Turn dough out on to a large sheet of plastic wrap.
- Form the dough into a disc, and wrap with plastic.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- After chilling, allow the dough to sit on the countertop for about 10 minutes before rolling.
- Lightly flour your counter, and then roll the dough into a shape 2-inches bigger than your tart pan on all sides. Work quickly. If the dough gets too warm, return to refrigerator.
- Slide the rolled dough on to a cookie sheet, and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Transfer the chilled dough to your tart pan.
- Loosely drape it over the top, and use your hands to gently form it to the shape of your pan.
- Cut the edges by rolling your rolling pin over the top of the tart pan. Discard scraps, or use them to patch holes or imperfections in your crust.
- Aim for a distinct, squared bottom to your crust, at a thickness of about ¼ inch. Use scraps to reinforce any thin areas.
- Lightly cover shaped dough and tart pan with plastic wrap, and return to refrigerator once more for another 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).
- Place tart pan on to a larger cookie sheet.
- Spray a large piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray, and press, sprayed side down, into the crust. Take care not to smash your chilled crust.
- Fill aluminum foil with pie weights (I use dry beans).
- Bake until shell is a pale golden brown, about 30 minutes.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and remove foil and weights.
- Prepare filling immediately, as shell must be warm when filling is added.
- Keep oven at 375 degrees (F).
- In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together eggs and egg yolks.
- Add sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt, and again whisk to combine.
- Fit pan with a candy thermometer and place pan on the stovetop.
- Over medium heat, add the butter and stir constantly until the mixture begins to thicken and reaches 170 degrees. This will take about 5 minutes.
- Immediately, pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Use a rubber spatula to help the curd through the sieve.
- Add cream to strained curd and whisk to combine.
- Pour the warm curd into your tart shell.
- Place filled shell back on the cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until the center is just slightly jiggly.
- Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Remove the tart pan (carefully!!)
- Garnish with a dusting of confectioners sugar, fresh blackberries, and a drizzle of blackberry syrup.