I really like lemon desserts, and that lemon souffle rocked my world but I’m kind of over lemons right now. It’s mid-June and I’m craving strawberries, rhubarb, ice cream, s’mores and everything else supremely summery. While lemon is a nice light flavour I can’t help but think to myself “lemon again?” But I am a dedicated soldier in the Great British Bake Off army and I follow orders!
We had a busy weekend, my brother in law got married! Where ironically a lemon tart featured prominently in my father in law’s speech. But since I felt behind in my baking I used Sunday to do two bakes. As with my last double header I had a 50% success rate. Sadly the tarte au citron was not in the winning 50%.
I don’t know if I was over confident of just a glutton for punishment but I chose to take on some extra credit work for this assignment. I decided to make some crystallised lemon peel as a garnish. Yes, the girl that just complained about the excessive use of lemon made extra lemon candy. Obedient but not smart.
Actually, the crystallised lemon went quite well. It was really simple, boil thin strips of lemon rind dump out the water and repeat. Then simmer in simple syrup until translucent. I boiled and dumped and boiled again. And in the end, I got some chewy crunchy lemon candy type things. Despite that terrible description, they were pretty good and I imagine doing the same thing with orange peel would be delicious!
If only the pastry went as well as the garnish. If you read the Cornish pasty post you’ll know that pastry isn’t my strong suit. Everything goes ok with the mixing but then I kind of lose my way.
Like I said I have the mixing down pat, I can rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles bread crumbs with the best of them. I even successfully incorporated the wet ingredients into this mixture. Side note – one of my favourite things about baking is when things come together exactly as the recipe says they will. For example, when I put in the yolk and 1 tablespoon of water I thought there was no way it would make a dough. There was too much dry mixture for that measly amount of liquid. But I did what the recipe asked of me and like magic this….
turned into this….
Baking is cool!
With my dough prepared it was time for assembly. I went all over Sunday morning looking for a 9inch removable bottom tart tin with no luck. So I settled for 4, 4inch tins.(This was the beginning of the end for me).
Mary goes into great detail about how to line the tin properly by removing the base, putting down parchment and doing some kind of pastry jujitsu. Thinking I was very clever I ignored all these instructions and just rolled out the pastry. Well, Mary does know best and my method resulted in pastry glued to my counter and nowhere near the inside of the tin. I started again following Queen Mary’s instructions and I had 4 mini tarts ready to chill and be baked.
As I should have learned from the Victoria Sandwich experience when you change the size of your pan or tin you must also change the baking time. Or you will get this….
This picture doesn’t really do justice to the true char that I had achieved on these poor tarts. They were black with the smokey kitchen to match. After yelling several profanities and then a few more for good measure I started my pastry again. Rub butter, yolk and water magic, roll, line, chill then bake. This time I stood in front of the oven the whole time and stared. I have no idea how long I actually baked them for since I just waited until they started to brown and then yanked them out of the oven.
Because of my delay with the carbon tarts I ended up making my filling too early. I had it ready to go into the first set of tarts but when they got thrown out the filling had to wait about an hour before it was ready to go into the new tarts. Over time the filling started to separate and since I had put it into a jar for optimum pourability I just shook it up to mix it back together. Bad idea! The filling got all bubbly and frothy. Since I was out of lemons I put my frothy filling in any way. What I got was a lemon filling with lots of unprofessional bubbles on top.
Thank God for the concealer of the baking world – icing sugar. I dusted theses tarts liberally and after hiding the remains of the charcoal tart shells and some artfully placed garnish you could hardly tell the road to Tarte au Citron was littered with casualties.
I couldn’t help but think that if I was doing this while being filmed or god forbid, timed, I would have been crying in a corner somewhere. Thankfully my cats were the only witnesses to my trauma. I was able to console myself when I had a bite. These little tarts were yummy! Since all the bubbles had risen to the surface the filling was smooth and creamy and my pastry was flaky! There was some filling overflow when I poured it into the tarts so it’s hard to see that there is no soggy bottom but it was crisp, I promise.
Thankfully I think I have a reprieve from lemons and pastry for a couple of bakes but there are pork pies looming in the not too distant future…..