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May 07, 2008
A few weeks ago, I posted the recipe for this lemon tart, a favorite of mine from Pierre Herme, on Serious Eats and, coincidentally, it was chosen as the recipe of the week by the wonderful bakers at Tuesdays with Dorie.Â I heard from some of you that you were having difficulties getting the lemon cream up to 180 degrees F -- 165 degrees F seemed to be the stopping point -- and that whether you called it quits at 165 or kept going to 180, it was taking a long time and a lot of elbow grease to thicken the cream.
Well, I made the recipe over the weekend and I've got a new thought
on how to speed up the process and still get the thick, smooth, almost
velvety cream that makes this tart so remarkable.
To recap, the recipe calls for the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice
and eggs to be mixed together in a bowl. The bowl is put over a
saucepan with a few inches of boiling water and you whisk, whisk, whisk
until the mixture thickens enough for the whisk to leave tracks, then
you keep whisking until the cream measures 180 degrees F on a candy or
instant-read thermometer. To finish the cream, you pour it into a
blender and cool it slightly before you whir in room-temperature butter
-- but that's not the problemmatic part.
So here's what I did over the weekend -- I got bold! To make my
double boiler, I used a soup pot and I filled it about 2/3 full of
water, which I brought to a boil. I then put the bowl (a metal bowl)
with all the ingredients over the steaming soup pot (making sure that
the bottom of the bowl wasn't touching the boiling water) and whisked
like mad. With so much heat under the bowl, the cream came up to 180
degrees F in under 10 minutes (in fact, the first time I did it, it
took 4 minutes and 39 seconds; the second time, it took almost 7
minutes -- different bowl, different pot, different stove).
Of course, if you're going to supercharge the power under the bowl,
you've got to be vigilant -- you can't take your eyes off the cream;
energetic -- you can't stop whisking, even for a few seconds; and
nimble -- as soon as the cream shows the slightest signs of thickening,
measure the temperature and make sure to remove the bowl from the heat
immediately the instant you hit 180 degrees F.
A couple of other re-thinks: If your lemon zest was very finely grated (I use a Microplane grater/zester),
then you don't need to strain the cream -- just quickly scrape the hot
cream from the bowl into the blender. And, while you shouldn't add the
butter to the cream while it's still very hot (if you do, then the
butter will melt, as it does in a lemon curd, and you won't get the
great texture that sets this cream apart), you don't really need to
measure the cream's temperature before you butterize it -- if you leave
the cream in the blender for 8 to 10 minutes, it will be just the right
temperature for blending in the butter.
Finally, I made this tart on Sunday as part of my workshop at Pastry Scoop's Spring Conference at The French Culinary Institute, and, because it was at hand, I used lime juice in place of the lemon juice and it worked perfectly.
I hope those of you who haven't already made the tart, will -- it's
really one of my all-time favorite recipes -- and that those of you
who've already made it, will find these tweaks helpful the next time
you decide to whisk up this treat.
Pies & Tarts
| May 7, 2008 9:53 AM
I made this myself a few weeks ago and also had trouble getting it to the 180. However, even after giving up around 170, it still turned out fantastic. It thickened just fine, so that wasn't an issue at all.
I'll try your suggestions from this blog entry next time. It will be interesting to see if it turns out different from last time.
| May 7, 2008 11:00 AM
I made the tart as a member of TWD and did not have any problems with the cream reaching temperature.
I definitely plan on making this again and really appreciate your re-thunk comments/suggestions!
I'll be sure to implement them on my next lemon tart making adventure!
| May 7, 2008 11:22 AM
What a stunning looking dessert!
My mom loves lemony desserts. I think I'll make this for Mother's Day.
Thanks for the tips.
And, in the spirit of sharing, here's one of mine - if your arm flags while whisking, use your electric hand mixer instead.
| May 7, 2008 11:52 AM
Thanks, Dorie! It was so nice of you to come up with these tips. I joined TWD after they made this recipe, but I am definitely going to make it soon. Sounds delicious!
| May 7, 2008 12:49 PM
Dorie, I'd like to thank you for the update! I made the tart, to rave reviews, and had no problem getting the creme up to temp under your old system.
| May 7, 2008 1:04 PM
this really is one of the best recipes in the dessert/pastry world. last weekend i hosted a baby shower and made two bite tarts with a raspberry on top. they were heaven on earth. this weekend for M Day -- Im going to try mini pavlovas with the cream and carmelized lemons on top.
Thanks Dorie for all efforts -- you really do make the world a better place. Thanks for caring about the home bakers out there.
| May 7, 2008 2:35 PM
Dorie ~ Is it any wonder that you have so many fans among food bloggers? It's not just the recipes, it's this kind of grace. What other cookbook author ends up with hundreds of public recipe testers? With your response, you show us how best to respond when readers have experiences we hadn't anticipated.
PS I appreciated the distinction of what makes this filling different from lemon curd because I didn't get that difference, quickly scanning the recipe.
| May 7, 2008 5:30 PM
Dorie-Thanks so much for the additional tips. We are making lemon cream tarts for my wedding soon and the extra advice will come in handy! We have made the tarts several times and they are always delicious! I will have to try the new techniques next time! I can't wait!! I know the guests will be in heaven. You can't go wrong with a Dorie dessert and we are having several!
| May 7, 2008 8:44 PM
Hi Dorie! I hope you can jog my memory. Last year for Mother's Day I made the lemon cream and used it as filling in a cake. I cannot find or remember where I got the recipe for the cake. I've checked the archives on this site and I've read and re-read Baking but I'm not finding it. I'm going to google it. Maybe it came from a visit you made to some show or NPR. I hope you can help me remember what I'm looking for. (I know. My memory is just pathetic)
| May 7, 2008 9:03 PM
I found it. I made the french yogurt cake. There's even a spot on the page as proof positive. :)
| May 8, 2008 8:07 AM
Wow, I had just earmarked that recipe to make. Guess it's settled now. Double-boiler, here I come.
Lindsey (Cafe Johnsonia)
| May 8, 2008 10:11 AM
Thanks, Dorie! This will be immensely helpful the next time I make that recipe. You are the best!
| May 8, 2008 12:03 PM
Thanks for the update. This is one of my favorite desserts. I was one of the few who did not have problems with the temperature, so I'm sure your suggestions will help the others. A lime version is next on my list, and when my blood oranges are ready, I'll try that as well.
| May 8, 2008 4:25 PM
Dorie, how would it be to substitute sour cream for the yogurt in the french yogurt cake? Would that work ok?
| May 8, 2008 10:01 PM
This tart really is extraordinary, when I made mine (orange flavor), I did not use the double boiler method, I kept whisking and moving the pot off and on the heat. Once again, thanks for your guidance.
| May 9, 2008 8:37 AM
Thank you for tackling raising the temperature issue. Your alternate method makes short work of raising the temperature. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go
| May 9, 2008 11:00 AM
it did turn out perfectly! I was one of the student helpers at your demo at the Pastry Scoop conference. It was truly a pleasure to meet and work with you! Thank you again for coming for the day and for rolling through a few equipment snags with grace :)
| May 9, 2008 11:37 AM
This recipe is absolutely wonderful and a favorite of mine. When in Paris, I always get a lemon tart at Pierre Herme. Can you share the secret of the little bit of fresh lemon he puts in his tarts? It tastes like it might be lightly candied.
| May 10, 2008 4:33 AM
I have been thinking since I first read this that it sounds like sweet lemony hollandaise sauce! How delicious can you get? Haven't made it yet, but I will.
| May 14, 2008 8:59 AM
So it was not my thermometers that were misbehaving? I made PH's lemon cream back in January and my cream was thickening fast but the temperature was not 180 F at all. I shall retry it with your suggestions.
| May 14, 2008 3:19 PM
Thanks for the tip, Dorie! I've made this tart over and over again, and I have had trouble getting the temperature up to 180. I've found, however, that if I give up after a bit of time whisking at a sustained 165 to 170 , that the mixture still comes out fine. I'll try the soup pot next time, though!
| May 17, 2008 11:49 PM
I missed that week on TWD but made the orange cream for something else (piping in cupcakes - but I ended up just eating the cream with some cookies). Anyway, thanks for posting this. I plan on giving it a try soon - the orange version was incredible!
| May 28, 2008 1:53 PM
I finally had a chance to try this recipe yesterday. It met with rave reviews and amazement at how smooth and lemony it was. I used ginger snaps for the crust.
When I tasted the creme before adding the butter, I thought that it was delicious at that state and might make a fine filling for a cake.
btw- I got an amazing double whisk made by Kuhn-Rikon for Christmas last year and it hasn't failed me yet in making perfectly smooth custard based sauces.
| June 2, 2008 7:09 PM
I made this tart and it looked beautiful and tasted delicious. But when I cut into it, the cream oozed out. It didn't run, but it didn't stay in place.
I had chilled the cream overnight. The only thing that might have gone awry is that I had to drive the cream for 45 minutes in an air-conditioned car. But I put the cream in the refrigerator for at least one hour, and after I assembled the tart onsite, I chilled the tart in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
Any idea what I did wrong? Does it sound like I didn't make the cream properly? Thank you!
| May 17, 2009 8:36 AM
Dorie: I just read your re-thunk comments re the Pierre Herme lemon cream tart. I have made it in various make-shift double boiler arrangements and found that getting the water boiling speeds the process enormously and the type of bowl used also can make a difference. I also noted that even if the temperature doesn't quite reach 180 the cream works.
PS: My grandson asked for this tart for his 16th birthday. His comment: "Best birthday "cake" I've ever had!
| June 3, 2009 11:02 AM
Dorie, this sounds so delicious, I can't wait to give it a try â€” I've been debating the perfect use for some fresh farmers' market cream, and surely this is it.
And congrats on the beautiful new newsletter! I'm so looking forward to that cheese bread and some rose...
| June 3, 2009 11:04 AM
I blogged about this recipe back in April here http://www.edibleusable.com/2009/04/its-gettin-hot-in-here.html I also had trouble getting the curd up to 180, but I guess I cooked it long enough that it came out fine and tasted delicious.
And I got a new thermometer that clips to the side of my pan so I can keep an eye on the temp the next time I make it.
| June 3, 2009 8:59 PM
Dorie, I made the lemon cream for a recent HS graduation party. The difference being that I made these fabulous little mini tartelettes that were like little shortbread cookie cups, you know, in a mini muf pan? Then, I made mascarpone whipped cream topping and finally a pretty berry on top. They were stupendous, Dorie. Super easy recipe and so smooth. Very impressive. I love lemon curd too but this is like "better!" Thank you Dorie
| July 5, 2010 2:02 AM
Hi Dorie! I just bought your book and I am so thrilled. I even took a picture of it and turned it into my mobile's wallpaper.
Anyway, I just love to try this lemon cream recipe from your book. I just wanted to ask, can I use a beater or hand held mixer to incorporate/emulsify the butter into the cream instead of an osterizer?
PS. And if I could, I'd send my book over just to have it autographed. Huge fan all the way from the Philippines :D
| January 1, 2011 4:22 PM
Hi, it really is a great tart. I have made it twice already. It tasted great, but I was not really happy with the cream's texture. Right after it was finished it tasted great and was silky smooth. Then I have put it into a bowl, covered it with a plastic wrap and put it into refrigerator over night. The next day, when I wanted to assemble the tart, the cream was quite solid and kind of grainy. As if small pieces of butter have formed. Do you have any idea what I may have done wrong? It happened both times.
| February 12, 2012 11:57 AM
Hi Dorie, I have to tell you I made this twice in as many days when you first posted this recipe and to say it was a hit would be an understatement. People still talk about it.
However I will admit that the one thing I hate in the kitchen is being stuck over a double boiler like one of the witches from Macbeth. So this morning I tried your rethink. Holy wow!!! It was so fast it caught me off guard. Now I know I can get it done in around 4 minutes those people begging for it again have a much higher chance of getting it again.
Thanks for taking the time to tweak such an awesome recipe.
replied to comment from Janine
| February 12, 2012 7:05 PM
Janine, thanks so much for writing. I'm glad you tried 'the tweak' and that it was helpful. Anything to bring more lemon cream into the world :)
| August 17, 2012 10:58 AM
Hi Dorie, Love this lemon tart as it was so easy to replicate this master piece. I am not sure if my cream has been over-beaten or not (about 10 min high speed),but it was really thick, smooth, but much richer than I expected (like cheese?). Could you let me know when is the perfect time to stop beating? I am planning to try it again over the weekend. Thank you so much.
replied to comment from Dani
| August 19, 2012 8:27 PM
Dani- I am soooo glad you enjoyed the lemon tart. It should be thick and creamy but light and airy at the same time. If you are mentioning '10 minutes' as the time it took you to blend the cream in with the butter, try cutting it down to about 3 and check the texture at every minute interval so you can see how it changes over time. It is also possible that the butter was a little bit cool- try leaving it out on the counter a little longer and see how that affects the texture. Also, check the temp at the 180 and 140 marks to ensure a good end result. Please write in and let me know how the next one goes!
| January 31, 2013 10:24 PM
My tarts always look a bit scruffy but yours looks perfect Dorie!
| March 30, 2013 12:46 PM
Doris, I love this tart and have made it several times, but how do you get that perfectly smooth top? I always end up with trowel marks!
My wife and I spend summers in Paris Nd really enjoyed your book Paris Sweets! This tart makes me think I'm back in Paris for awhile!
replied to comment from Jim
| March 30, 2013 7:50 PM
Jim, I love this tart too. The best way I know to get a smooth top on the tart is to pour the lemon cream into the baked tart as soon as it comes out of the blender. Fill the crust and then swivel the tart pan a bit to level the top. Chill thoroughly before serving. Enjoy!
| June 10, 2013 8:05 PM
I make this recipe all the time for a million different applications. I love it and so does everyone else. You have personally made me a better baker and pastry chef. Thank you.
replied to comment from Calvin Lee
| June 10, 2013 8:29 PM
Calvin Lee- Thank you so much for your sweet comments. It has been a while since I made the lemon tart and I must make it again very soon!
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