5.24.2014

Another French Tart

A year ago, I posted "A French Tart." The post got lots of hits, and I've never been sure if it was the chocolate that was so popular or if the words "French Tart" were what brought an entirely new audience to Cocoa & Lavender!

This week, I am bringing you another traditional French dessert, this time from a new cookbook, a gift from my friend, Susan (of The Modern Trobadors fame).

It contains photographs by François Millo and recipes by Viktorija Todorovska and several accredited chefs. The book is called Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living. Its beautiful photos make it a veritable feast for the eyes... and we all know that our appetites are whetted by beautiful presentation, and our passions stirred by atmospheric photos. Millo's photos are gorgeous and they evoke the languorous days we spent in Provence several summers ago.

For my first look at the book, I skipped over the wine section and went straight for the food. That will be no surprise to those of you who know me. I was thinking the book would be a collection of traditional Provençal recipes, but was delighted to find nouvelle Provençal dishes mixed in and tangled with recipes from centuries past.

Foodways change. Generally, European cuisine is very traditional, based on historical practices that should be preserved. But cookery is not static. Chefs want and need to be creative. They borrow from here, get inspiration from there, try new combinations.

For some of the traditional recipes, it is important to remember that Provence and Liguria (Italy) share a border, so we see shared influences that are centuries-old. The use of pistou (pesto) in soup has been a Provençal culinary tradition for ages. There are quite a few additional Italian-inspired dishes that illustrate this point, such as the creamy polenta, and a tiramisù.

The use of the word 'tiramisù' is a 20th century name for a layered pudding that has probably been made for centuries by every nonna in every region of Italy. The version in the book is minimally inspired by this; it is macerated berries layered with custard, more of what the British would call a 'fool.' This shows the creativity of the chef, inspired by a traditional dish.

Provence is a destination for young and eager chefs, as well as seasoned veterans. Why wouldn't they want to go to this magical place, steeped in tradition and endowed with abundant fresh vegetables, nuts, olives and seafood? Why wouldn't they want to make their own mark on the culinary map?

Because I am all about the food (if less so the wine), I highly recommend that you hop over to The Modern Trobadors for a visit. Susan has actually met and corresponded with Millo and Todorovska, and has a great post today on the wines of Provence.

I eventually read the wine section and learned a lot about rosé wines, and how to appreciate their bouquet and gorgeous color. These sophisticated wines are not the cheap pink plonk of our parents' day, and they are certainly nothing akin to white zinfandel.

I am enjoying this book, and look forward to cooking through it this summer, bottles of rosé by my side. Today's Tarte au Citron is a very different recipe from others I have received from friends in France. The addition of the whipped crème fraîche really makes this a special treat.

Bon appétit!
~ David

Tarte au Citron 

My notes appear below {in brackets and blue}. It is very important to follow the weights used in these recipes, not volume, especially when dealing with dry ingredients. For example, in this recipe, the 250 grams of flour was about 1 1/2 cups - not 2 cups - of scooped flour. That would make a significant difference in your dough. As always, oven temperatures vary so, when baking, always check 5-10 minutes before the timer.

For the crust:
2 cups (250 grams) {start with 1 1/2 cups}

unbleached all-purpose flour
7 ounces (199 grams) unsalted butter {at room temperature}
1/2 cup (96 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


For the filling:

8 ounces (227 grams) crème fraîche
3/4 cup (144 grams) granulated sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
juice of 4 lemons {about 7/8 cup}
4 tablespoons (23 grams) butter, softened and cubed 

Lemon slices or meringue, for garnish 

To Prepare the Crust:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, butter, sugar, and salt. Mix until crumbly.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the egg, egg yolk, lemon zest, and vanilla extract and beat lightly with a fork. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 2 minutes, or until a dough forms. {This took less than 30 seconds with my KitchenAid mixer, using the paddle attachment.}

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough for 1 minute. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (or up to four days). (If you chill the dough for longer than 1 hour, let it warm slightly before rolling out.)

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch (6mm) thickness. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch (22.5-cm) tart dish with a removable bottom. Trim off any excess dough. {Cover and freeze for 30 minutes. Uncover before baking. Line crust with parchment or aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights or beans.} Bake for 25 minutes {removing beans at about 10 minutes}. {My crust was done at about 20 minutes.} Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature.

To Prepare the Filling and Assemble the Tart:

In a mixing bowl, whip the crème fraîche until it is light and airy. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, eggs, and lemon juice over low heat {I suggest medium-low}. Stir well. Cook, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes. {It took 15-20 minutes before it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Straining might be necessary.} Remove from the heat.

Transfer to a bowl. Add the butter and stir well to incorporate. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Fold in the whipped crème fraîche.

Pour the filling into the crust and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until ready to serve. Just before serving, garnish with lemon slices or with meringue that has been browned under the broiler. {I garnished with fresh flowers from the garden.}

44 comments:

  1. Hi David,

    The tart looks absolutely delicious. Lemon Tart and Key Lime Pie are two of my personal favorites for dessert. I thought for sure you would sneak lavender in the recipe! Can't wait to make it here!

    Towny

    P.S. the leftover soupe au poisson used for the bouillabaisse morphed into an improvised Portuguese fish stew

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    1. Towny - most people think that chocolate would be my first choice for dessert but, like you, I prefer lemon and lime! Can't wait to read your bouillabaisse post!

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  2. Mmm i love a good French tart any day! You know I'll always prefer the chocolate one, but I can't say no to a tart, lemony one either. Great find this book it seems!

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    1. I knew you would prefer the chocolate, Magda, but I am glad this one is irresistible, too.

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  3. Beautiful! Anyone who doesn't like this needs to be given the third degree...something is not right!

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    1. Christina - the way I see it is this: if someone doesn't like a dessert (or desserts in general), I cultivate their friendship, as it always leaves more for me!

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  4. If it has lemon, I know I will love it! I'm sure it tastes as lovely as it looks! Thanks!!

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    1. Thanks, Peg - it is really quite luscious!

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  5. I can't wait to make this lemon tart--so nice any time of year but it is especially appealing now!

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    1. Susan - it is the perfect summery dessert! I know you will love it, and it would go really well with your bouillabaisse.

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  6. Hi again! I could not add to or even delete the above message on my iPad, which apparently does not like blogs...urgh! I noticed the Whispering Angel in one of your photos...were you drinking that rosé while you made your tart? Finally, always fun to co-post with you!

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    1. I feel your iPad pain! Yes, the iPad makes it so difficult. I have had the same issues, and just started over. Yes, we had the Whispering Angel with dinner that evening. It was all delightful! I loved this co-post, too. Great fun, as always!

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    2. I couldn't start over! Even when I closed out the page, I would re-open to find the same page with the half-written comment! Ah well, more importantly, loved the post and really wanted to tell you!

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  7. Wow David, This looks fabulous…lemon is one of my favorite flavors! An absolutely wonderful dessert!
    I also loved reading about your movie and dinner night…our movie nights usually entail Pizza and dessert…yours sounds deliciously impressive.

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    1. Glad you liked it, Kathy! Pizza and dessert work out really well, too, for movie nights. We also do appetizer nights - 5-6 different kinds, and then everybody just nibbles throughout dinner.

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  8. This looks and sounds quite exquisite! I've been wanting to do a lemon tart for years... as it happens, I have several Meyers ripening in a pot! Thank you for sharing this : )

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    1. I would love to know how this works with Meyer lemons! I bet it would be fantastic, Liz!

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  9. I have this book, I just haven't cracked it open yet. Thanks for the tempting tart as a reason to do so. G

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    1. Time to get crackin', Greg! I think there are some really good recipes in the book - looking forward to trying several!

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  10. The tart looks absolutely luscious, David! I love lemon tarts and tarts in general, as I'm sure you've realised from my own blog! Besides, I'm a sucker for anything French in the title :) I hope you're well. I'm just beginning to get back into my rounds :)

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    1. Oh, and I love the look and sound of the book! I'll have to drop some hints to the family since I have a birthday coming up :)

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    2. Glad you are coming around, Nazneen! And glad you like the tart - it is so tasty! When is your birthday? I hope they surprise you wih lots of fun culinary stuff!

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  11. such a beautiful golden summer tart....and really...you are an expert in cooking dear friend...such a perfectly baked pie crust...it is inspiring....just like that indulgent chocolate tart you posted...this too is going to have lots and lots of hits....it has already captured our minds...we are certain to give this a try soon,thanks

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    1. You two are always so kind! I am glad you like both of the tart recipes, and I would love to know what you think of them once you make them. We are having your daal tomorrow evening!

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  12. Looks amazing! I love a good lemon custard. The book sounds great, too especially since it covers my favorite Rose wines!

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    1. Nicole - we arreally big rosé fans in this house! Have you tried Whispering Angel? It is one of our favorites. I think you will love the tart, too. As I know you do a lot of GF, I am sure you can find a good GF cookie crust to use for this!

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  13. Dear David, my kind of tart, totally. It has got crème fraîche and lemon and it is pretty and French and absolutely delicious looking - what on earth could I want more from a dessert - hand me a big slice, please!

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    1. I thought of you, Andrea, and your love of lemon when I made this. I wish we lived around the corner - I would bring you a slice... maybe even a whole tart!

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  14. Crème fraîche sounds like the perfect cream to use is such a tart. And I really look forward to seeing what you next do from this cookbook.

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    1. There are a couple of recipes that really have me excited - a rack of lamb, a potato-based pissaladière... and a few more desserts, too. I will keep you posted, John!

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  15. Just lovely, David! Lemon tart is one of my favorite summer desserts served with beautiful Oxnard strawberries! This one looks perfect. I love the violets in the center - such a pretty detail.

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    1. We enjoyed the early Oxnard strawberries in our market a while ago. They stop once the season really gets going! I hope you make it and enjoy it, Susan!

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  16. I love chocolate but would take a slice of this lemon tart before almost any other dessert…especially during the summer. I'm having to play catchup on the comments as blogspot just hasn't been letting them be published.

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    1. Glad to know we are together on the preference of lemon for dessert, Karen! I really do think it is a great summer dessert, as well.

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  17. Hi David, love this tart, the creme fraiche sounds wonderful in this, wondering if it makes this tart a little lighter? Will bookmark this for an upcoming dinner party. Thanks!

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    1. Cheri - I am not sure I would say it lightens the filling as much as I would say it loosens it. It just makes it the creamiest, best lemon filling ever!

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  18. I love this tart look amazing!! beautiful!

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    1. Thanks so much, Gloria! And thanks for stopping by!

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  19. I often get disappointed when I buy a cookbook and then discover that it's got new adaptations of the country's cuisine in it rather than traditional dishes (that happened recently with a Thai cookbook that I bought - it was so Westernized!). In this case, though, it looks like the nouvelle has worked well in the context of the book itself! So glad. This tart seriously looks beautiful David and I am so glad to know that I've travelled the whole year with you since your last French tart showed her pretty face (in fact, I think it was the first post that I read from you... and thereafter we shared our similar enthusiasm for flowers and herbs in baking!). Such a lovely post my friend. Quality, like everything you write! xx

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    1. Traditions are so important to me, Laura - and we all just keep making things more and more complicated when the simplest of recipes and very few ingredients can produce perfection. I do remember your first comment on C&L - and it was on the Mendiant Tart (still one of my favorites!). Thanks fro being with me through the year!

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  20. You can't help but fall a little bit in love with a French tart :)
    I have never tried using crème fraîche in a tarte au citron, it sounds divine.
    PS. I love love love your spatula with the pink hearts - I feel I must have one as well !!

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    1. Well, ain't that the truth, Karen! And sometimes, the tartier the better! :) Glad you like the spatula - it was given to me by my dear friend Laura - she has given me some wonderful kitchen gadgets over the years, many of which have shown on C&L.

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  21. So, were "French tart" or "chocolate" the key words? I used to be all about chocolate when it came to dessert, but lately I have been developing a real taste for lemon and lime based desserts, especially curds.

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    1. It is hard to tell what people were using - but I think both those key words were in my tags. Many of my friends responded the same way you did, Fiona - chocolate used the be "it" but now lemon and other fruit desserts are taking over.

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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