Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TWD: Tartest Lemon Tart

Today's TWD recipe was chosen by Babette of Babette Feasts. Last week was crazy around here (thank you for your nice comments on my last post, BTW), and we were lucky enough to have some amazing family and friends who helped us through the craziness by watching our kids, chauffeuring our kids, and completely stocking our fridge with food. Thanks to their kindness and generosity, I have not cooked or baked a thing in over a week, except for anadama bread (which I know sounds weird unless you are a baker, then it sounds perfectly normal.) It will probably be another week before I am back in full cooking/baking/blogging mode (but boy, there is no slowing me down on Twitter!), but I made this lemon tart before things got really nuts, so I figure I might as well post it.


Sometimes I feel like I get good end results with things, but my process is really, really painful to watch. For example, back in law school my friend Cara and I returned to school in late August one year and decided on a whim to sign up for the Richmond Marathon in mid-October. We were both casual, 3 miles-four-or-five times a week kind of runners at the time. But we started adding mileage during the week and doing a long run on weekends. On a typical Friday during training we might run 18 miles, come back, order a meat lover's pizza with a side of cheesy bread, pour some wine, and then clean up to go out and live unhealthily for the next 6 hours. We finished the marathon, which I completely attribute to the power of youth -- if I tried such a thing now I would suffer the same fate as Pheidippides, but well before the 26.2 mile mark. But at the time, my then-boyfriend, now-husband David kind of shook his head and said that after watching our training regimen he could no longer feel the same kind of reverence that he once did for the accomplishment of completing a marathon. I know that I would have done my fellow marathon completers a favor by just surprising David at the finish line without making him watch such an ugly 6-week training process.

Well, now that I am baking, I can't even tell you how many times I've wished that David did not have to see what went on in the kitchen en route to (mostly) great end results. Sometimes it would be nice to just be able to pull a fine dessert out of thin air for my sweet hubs to enjoy without him having to witness the spills and explosions, the profanity, the injuries, the verbalized self-doubt, and the equipment malfunction that invariably accompany my baking.


This lemon tart is a prime example. The tart calls for Dorie's sweet tart dough with nuts. That came together fine, but then I had to prebake it, which seemed easy enough in theory. But it seemed completely raw on the bottom after the prebake time elapsed. I tried to talk it out: "this looks raw. Is this supposed to look like this? David, does this look VERY underdone to you? Well, I guess the edges are kind of baked. Didn't I do this before? I don't remember it looking this underbaked last time. Or was that the pie crust? Should I just stick it back in the oven?"

I finally decided to just prepare the filling, proceed with the recipe, and hope that the crust would bake up properly in the end. The filling was fun and easy to prepare - it contains whole lemons! I understand that there was a lot of concern on the P&Q about the piths making the tart bitter, but for me the ease of throwing a couple of lemons in the food processor without peeling, zesting, or squeezing was just too irresistible, and I never considered doing anything else.

Once the lemon filling was done, I filled the tart and stuck it in the oven, where it was in grave danger of overflowing. Then it baked, and baked, and baked, but the filling didn't seem like it was setting up properly. More chatter to poor David: "This is so not setting. But it is really getting brown on top. Ugh! Do you think our oven temperature is off? I really don't think this oven has been heating right ever since David Beckham* (*our handyman, not real Becks, unfortch) broke that center glass panel when he came to take it apart after the shrimp incident. We really need to get him over here to get that replacement panel put in. Gosh, that is jiggly. I did call him, but you know it will be hell to get him out here if all we have for him to do is the glass panel. Don't we have something else that is broken around here? Do you think this will set up more in the fridge? I don't want it to get burned on top! Wow, it really smells good. Okay stand back - I'm taking it out."


Well, sure enough, after all that angst, the tart did set up nicely once I took it out of the oven. We had some friends over to watch the Kentucky Derby, and I served the tart then. Everyone really seemed to enjoy it. I did not find it bitter at all, did not get any complaints about bitterness from my guests, and didn't sense that anyone was holding out on me. I thought it was very rich, tart and lemony. Extremely lemony -- in my opinion whipped cream is imperative to neutralize all that lemony goodness; I would not consider whipped cream to be optional here. The next day David's mom came into town; she really loved the tart as well.

David himself was a big fan of this tart. Would he have been an even bigger fan if I did not psychologically exhaust him while making it? Possibly. One of these days I will effortlessly churn out these desserts, I just know it! Until then, we'll consider the turmoil of the process a small price to pay for the ultimate prize of such a fine lemon tart.

Thanks for the great pick, Babette!

59 comments:

Nancy/n.o.e said...

Really, Cathy, YOU, chatter? Who'd believe that? I managed to serve this tart to my husband and he didn't know I'd made it - your dream scenario (and mine, too!). He got to enjoy it in blissful ignorance of any backstory.

Love your picture with the lemons and the julep! So refreshing. Lucky guests.
Nancy

Megan said...

Ha ha ha ha - sounds like my conversations with myself AND my husband. And his words - "don't doubt yourself so much!"

As if!

Barbara Bakes said...

I had fun reading this post. The tart looks extra tasty with all that yummy whipped cream!

Audrey said...

Don't think of it as exhausting your husband...think of it as paving the way for those of us who were pith-phobic, and now know what they were missing... And it's good to know about the whipped cream. If it's required, then it's required. What can you do? :)

Amanda said...

Mine bubbled over like a volcano, but it turned out fine after some doctoring :) A little bitter, but I don't think my lemons were of the best quality. DELICIOUS dough!

Melissa said...

I'm glad your hubby still enjoyed it and your guests did too! It looks like it turned out fabulously!

dharmagirl said...

ha! i felt like my experience was a comedy of errors with this tart...some weeks are like that.

i love the fact that your repairman is named david beckham.

tart + julep=happiness!

Katherine Aucoin said...

I hope ecerything calms down on your end really soon. I would probably twitter more if I could get it to work on my phone.

Your posts still crack me up. This tart looks so worth making.

Peggy said...

Cathy with all you have had going on, I cannot even believe you posted this today. You are the rock star for sure! Great looking tart. We loved this one. So glad things went well last week and I love having you back at work!

vibi said...

Huh? what the... ? Did I miss something or did you just get back amongst us? Hummm... welcome back then! Hope you had the time to sort things out (if that's what was needed), but most of all... enjoyed some time to relax and not think of blogging!

A nice way to be back... that beautiful, luscious, bright and mouthwatering tart!

Teanna said...

I have a question - if the real David Beckham had broken your glass, do you think you would have gotten upset? Or would you be like, "Oh, it's ok David Beckham, I was meaning to get that replaced anyways!"

So anyways, I had no idea nuts were supposed to be in this crust - my top didn't brown, and it wasn't overly lemony - so I obviously did something wrong. Hahaha But regardless, YOUR tart looks like perfection!

Jessica said...

You know, I was alone in the kitchen while I made this tart and the whole time I was thinking how happy I was that no one was around to see the shenanigans that were involved in this thing. Your tart looks beautiful and I'm glad that it was a big hit in your house!

Cathy said...

Vibi - I only took a week off. I know, how can you miss me if I won't go away?

Teanna - Real Becks can come break my oven anytime!

Anne said...

I love the story about the marathon and know just what you mean about the process. I think I can finally make a tart shell after doing about 10 but still, with all the recipes in the book, it's going to be many years before I feel like I have them under my belt! That's why I try not to cook with my husband around, haha. :) Hope things slow down for you soon Cathy!

MacDuff said...

Awesome!!! And hey - my cousin and I are debating running the Miami marathon (or half!) in January. You should think about it, for the sheer reason that it would be a great excuse for David to take you on vacation to Florida in January.

The tart looks awesome. And here's to splitting pizzas...

Jill said...

Someday, someone is going to Google "David Beckham and shrimp" and end up at your blog!

I skipped this week, but boy does your tart look good with all that whipped cream on it!

Spike said...

I'm now just thinking about Becks coming over to do work around my house. that would be nice. Glad the tart came out despite the process!

Kayte said...

That Twitter thing is too addictive...LOL...blogging is taking a second role...after I Twitter, I figure that I have ALREADY blogged, so no need to go there and do that. Very fun post, as usual, and the tart looks very very tasty and beautiful. I am sure David appreciates it even more when you involve him in the process, don't you??? LOL. I loved the idea of tossing the whole darn lemon in the processor, too...that was just a whole lotta fun.

Pam said...

I always smile when I ready your posts. Lemon tart is my very favorite - I think yours looks FANTASTIC.

Sara said...

The tart looks super! I am also terrible about obsessing and over thinking everything I did while something is baking in the oven.

Madam Chow said...

I loved this tart, too. And I love your law school "diet" - ah, the metabolism of youth!

Maria said...

The tart looks fabulous! I love lemon desserts, especially in the spring/summer!

Katrina said...

Fun post. Somehow I missed yours last week and glad you're back and hope all The Stuff is resolved. Your tart looks great. I've learned when Dorie says prebake a crust, that I will always underbake it way more than her timing (especially if the tart is going back in the oven to bake a filling). I did that this time and the crust was great. I loved the tartiness of this one. Great story about the marathon, too.

myfamousrecipe said...

My experience was very much like yours. At one point, I thought to myself, 'well, it's not a requirement that you post pictures.' This tart seemed doomed at so many points during the process. But then it somehow all came together in the end!

SUGAR B said...

Everything about this entry looks killer delicious!

Awesome, awesome, awesome!

You are a dessert diva, Cathy.

pinkstripes said...

Your tart looks great! I'm going to make the full-size version of this one day. I'm on a mini-strike now. Nothing miniature for me anymore (or at least this week).

And maybe I'm not lazy when I don't train for my half-marathon, I just don't want to put anyone through training angst. :P That's it.

Cristine said...

Your tart looks perfect!

Mary Ann said...

You did a marathon after training for only 6 weeks? Wow.
I love the story of your tart. It turned out perfectly and how great that you were able to share it with so many people that loved it.
The dialogue with your hubby is fantastic!

Bridgett said...

I just love your posts, they make me laugh and smile. This tart looks fantastic and would be perfect for a summer treat.

natalia said...

Ciao Cathy ! I'm glad you are back ! i love the marathon story !And the tart looks so yummy !!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Great story with a happily ever after ending! who could ask for anything more? Your tart looks absolutely mouth-watering! Great job!!

Flourchild said...

Nice post and nice tart!

Jess said...

Glad you're back and baking - the tart looks beautiful next to that ice cold mint julep cup! Ah, some whipped cream would have been great with this tart. And - shh - I no longer blind bake this tart dough (or Dorie's pie crust, for that matter) and it works fine. I'm all about cutting out steps where I can...

Cakelaw said...

Fabulous tart Cathy. Glad you found some time to fit it in and that things have calmed down somewhat.

Heather said...

i definitely experience some baking anxiety, i am always so nervous that something won't rise or brown correctly, or that flavors won't be right together. but it's always so fun when it does :) this tart looks AMAZING. i love lemony lemony lemon tarts. mmmmmmmmmm.

Steph said...

The process can be a little scary.. that's why I've still not tried to bake an angel food cake. Folding in all those egg whites.. imagine that!

The tart looks really good! The best part is when everyone enjoys it.

Tracey said...

What a gorgeous tart! I found it really bitter so I wish I'd made some whipped cream for mine. My husband is lucky in that I tend to do a lot of baking when he's not around so he doesn't have to deal with the process and just gets to enjoy the end results :)

Pamela said...

I didn't know you were on Twitter. I just signed up to follow you. I'm on there, but I have not yet twittered! Gotta get on that! Great post again, Cathy. Hope everything is going okay. Take care!!

PS Nice tart!!!

Secret Server said...

I am right there with you. Sometimes I wonder if the end product is worth it to him for all of the whining I do while I am making it. I have fun though and we all liked this tart.

Amber Marie said...

This looks great - glad everyone enjoyed. Super impressed that you had already made this and just had to post it up. I'm such a last minute baker :) Hope things are going well.

Jules Someone said...

Hehehehe. Like laws and sausages, you never want to know how they're made. But your tart is lovely! My husband just never wants to see how many dishes he has to wash.

Sophie said...

I had fun reading this lovely post! Your tarte looks incredible & yummie!!! MMMMMM....

Alwayzbakin said...

Beautiful! I will have to try this one.

Di said...

I'm glad things are starting to get back to normal. =) I love the description of your running commentary. I don't do that, I just had my husband some of whatever I've baked or cooked and sit there badgering him for his opinion... =)

bakingwiththeboys said...

I was in the best shape of my life in law school and NEVER even considered running a marathon. Kudos to you.

And i agree, the whipped cream was an integral and necessary part of this dessert.

AmyRuth said...

Cathy, LOL I just can't imagine it any other way in the kitchen. Some of us have someone to share all these moments with and others just share with the kitchen witches. he he I love that in spite of your trials, your dear sweet hubs loved your tart and I must say it looks delicious. I hope you and yours are recovering nicely. Such a blessing to have a support system at your side.
Great job Cathy and welcome back. Take care.
AmyRuth

The Blonde Duck said...

I'm sorry. I got stuck at meat lovers pizza. Let's have one. And skip the marathon. Not even I, Queen of Chiaerobics, do marathons.

Jacque said...

LOL, I wondered the same thing about the partially baked pie crust.

Sounds like we need to set up a TWD hotline so you can talk to an actual baker and leave your hubby to wait, unknowingly, somewhere else.

Your tart sure looks good. Mine never got to that browned stage, it just bubbled up like a molten lava and then I decided it was time to take it out.

Natashya said...

You are so funny.
Good to have you back. The tart looks totally delicious, I will help David out with his share!

Mermaid Sweets said...

Glad the tart worked out. Hope things get better. Loved the post.

Debinhawaii said...

Funny post! I think the tart looks amazing and I am always so impressed by how willing you are to try making all of these things!

chocolatechic said...

Looks wonderful.

I ended up not making this.

Aggie said...

Hey girl! I've missed ya! Things never look right in my kitchen, lol. Your tart looks delish!!

The Food Librarian said...

I think running a marathon once in your life turns on your metabolism for the rest of your life.

Nice looking tart!!!

applecrumbles said...

Love lemon tart. Now I am in the mood. Your pic looked too good.

Girl Japan said...

The post was truly a fabulous read- the lemons-- oh goodness would you know I would pay $8 for one here- organic not imported ... ah I lust for lemons, love, love love them, and the tart, you did fabulous, thank you for coming by and saying "hello"!

beach houses said...

i love lemon tart as well

TeaLady said...

Great tart. Love the tart pics.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for some quality points there. I am kind of new to online , so I printed this off to put in my file, any better way to go about keeping track of it then printing?

 
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