Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lemon Meringue Tart - A Cause for Celebration

After work on Saturday J and I, along with my sister and brother in law made the trek from Seattle to Bellingham to visit our favorite Belling-hamster, my brother. It wasn't just any visit, it was a trek to celebrate the 55 milestone. I couldn't have wished for a more perfect day to celebrate my brother's birthday.  It was so touching to see how many of his friends showed up to honor him and celebrate his life.  This was really a step out of his comfort zone.  My brother never likes to draw attention to himself, he's always doing things behind the scenes,making things happen , smoothing ruffled feathers, giving praise and positive feedback but never taking the spotlight himself. So when he called and said he was throwing himself a party I knew it was a momentous occasion and one I would not miss.  You have to know my family to appreciate what he did.  Every time there is a family celebration my sister and I load the table with enough food to feed a small country.  And my brother is always moaning that we cook too much and we need to down size.  Well my sister and I don't know what downsize means-it's not part of our vocabulary when it comes to celebrations.  So when I walked into my brother's house and saw the spread he had laid out all I could say was "Welcome to our world bro '!  He did his sisters proud-actually quite amazing with all the wonderful appetizers, cheese and crackers,smoked salmon, cake, wine, beer-his table overflowed.  But truly the best part was to wander among the guests and hear the stories about my brother that I have missed out on by living 100 miles away.  I'm very proud of him, always have been and always will be.  He's a kind, generous soul with integrity and a heart bigger than the world. And I love him dearly.  Happy Birthday Bro !

I took this instead of a birthday cake -it was the first time I used this particular recipe and after I discovered the dough produced 3 tarts I had to triple up the lemon cream and meringue recipe.  So if only want 1 tart just cut the recipe in thirds.

Lemon Meringue Tart
A combination of recipes from Fanny at Foodbeam ,
Pierre Herme and my pastry class notes
makes 3 - 9" tarts

Pate Sucre Crust

300g (10 1/2 ounces ) unsalted butter, at room temperature
190g ( 6 34 ounces ) icing sugar(powdered sugar)
60g  ( 2 1/4 ounces )ground almonds
seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Start by creaming the butter until soft and smooth

Then, mix in the icing sugar, ground almonds and vanilla seeds.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated

Remove from the mixer. Mix in the flour and salt until just incorporated. Do not overwork! The dough should be crumbly, lumpy

Form three balls , gently press them down and wrap them tightly in cling film. Refrigerate overnight.

At this step, the pastry can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or it can be frozen for a month (you’ll just need to thaw the pastry in your fridge the day before you want to use it).

Roll the dough between two layers of baking paper. Cut into a disk about 2 inches  larger that your pan.
Refrigerate the disk for at least 2 hours.

You can now start lining a buttered tart circle. The butter helps the dough to slide on the sides of the circle..

Basically, you need to pinch the dough between your right finger and push it down using the sides. Keep doing this, until the full circle is lined and check if the dough forms a 90° angle (if not, push it towards the bottom a little more).

Chill for an hour.

It’s now time to bake the crust. Pre-heat your oven to 350degrees F.
Take the lined circle out of the fridge, cover the base and side of the pastry with baking paper and fill with dried beans or rice (baking weighs are to heavy for this fragile pastry).

Bake for 17 to 25 minutes (depending on the size of your crust.)  Remove the dried beans/rice and baking paper and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes or until a nice light brown.
Lemon cream

400 grams (14ounces) caster sugar

finely grated zest of 6 lemons

8 large eggs

Freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 8-9 lemons)

600g ( 22 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into big chunks

 Italian meringue

4 egg whites

70g ( 2 1/2 ounces) caster sugar

10g (1/2 ounce) dehydrated egg whites sifted (optional)

100g (3 1/2 ounces) water

300g (10 1/2 ounces )sugar

First thing: fill the sink with about 3 inches of  cold water.

Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over a pan of simmering water.

 Rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.

Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, and start stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 185F, stirring constantly – be prepared, as it can take quite a lot of time-45 -60 minutes.

As soon as it reaches 185F, remove the cream from the heat and place the bowl into the sink and allow to cool down to 140F. Gradually incorporate the butter, whisking after each addition
When all the butter as been used, blend the cream with a hand-held blender for 8 minutes. It might sound long, but will ensure a too-smooth-to-be-true lemon cream.

Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of cling film against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate overnight.

The next day (or later, as the cream can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days), whisk the cream to loosen it and pipe it into the tart shell and refrigerate for at least an hour before starting with the meringue.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt at slow speed until the foam throughout, add the 70g of caster sugar, gradually increase the speed to fast, and beat to soft peaks. Turn the machine to slow as you complete the sugar syrup.

Bring the 300g sugar and  100g water to 240F.

Beating the egg whites at moderate speed, pour the boiling syrup into them. Increase the speed to high, and beat until the bowl is no longer hot (it should still feel slightly warm).


Cornstarch will help stabilize any soft meringue. Stir 1 Tbsp. cornstarch into 1/3 cup water and then bring it to a boil until thick, stirring constantly. Let cool slightly. Beat this gel into the beaten egg whites 1 Tbsp. at a time. The meringue won't shrink, it will be tender and easier to cut, and won't bead as easily

 Pipe the meringue onto the lemon cream and caramelise using a blow torch.


bellini valli said...

When asked what type of birthday cake I would like I always say lemon meringue pie. It is my comfort food!!!!!

Julie Hoagland said...

OOOOOhhhhhh, this looks divine!

Julie Hoagland said...

Ooohhhh, that looks divine!