Friday, July 6, 2012

How the Lemon Curd Tarts Turned Out + Jam Tarts

Dear Lauren,

Just look at them! They turned out great! The tart dough left over was from a recipe I made over the weekend from Cook's Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking which is from our Cook My Book group.

Here's a picture of the Jam Tart. I made this for the 4th of July dinner we made for Al. He just had surgery and he was planning on eating Cream of Mushroom soup from a can for his July 4th dinner!!!!! So Dad and I took over and took all of our food over to his house and fed him. We didn't give him much of a choice. And he did say he liked Cream of Mushroom soup. But still.

When Dad tasted this tart he said he thought it would make a good base for a lemon bar. I agreed. This conversation is what gave me the idea to try lemon curd and the tart crust instead of a traditional lemon bar. My plan was to make tart shells in a mini muffin pan but when I rolled out the dough and got out the muffin pan, Dad was frowning. He wanted lemon bars. So I made a few tart shells and I also put the tart dough on the bottom of the tart pan and thought I'd give Dad's way a go.

He wasn't too impressed. Lemon curd just doesn't "set" like when you bake lemon bars. (It still tastes delicious, this tart crust is just the right amount of crispy. Still, I will be on the lookout for an amazing lemon bar recipe. I do have a lead.)

The rest of the lemon curd is in the fridge. I've read differing accounts of how long it will keep. Most say between 1-2 weeks. There are others who say to process it in a water bath and it will shelf stable for 2 months. I think I'll skip that since I just have this one jar (and since I have never in my life processed anything in a water bath! OMG! You know I will try it eventually! Surely the first thing I try will be Apricot Jam! YUM!). Anyway, I seriously doubt the lemon curd will last too long around here, do you?


Jam Tart (Crostata di Marmellata di Frutta)

from Cook's Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking (Am I the only one that types encyclopedia while singing it (silently, of course!) Mickey Mouse Club style? It really makes typing the word much faster. Try it. Encyclopedia. See?)

1 1/4 cups flour

pinch of salt (I used fine sea salt.)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, chilled (I cut it in cubes by cutting it into 1/2 sliced and then cutting the slices into quarters. I place it on some parchment and then just set it in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Maybe you could get away with less, but that's what I do.)

1 egg (room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest (see what I wrote to you on the Lemon Curd letter for information about the best zester in the world!)
1 1/4 cups fruit jam, such as raspberry (seedless!), apricot or strawberry
1 egg lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons heavy cream for glazing

Preheat the oven to 375. Make the pastry by planing the flour, salt, and sugar in the food processor. You can certainly do it the old-fashioned way and use a pastry cutter. Dad likes to do that but that's not for me. Pulse it a few times to make sure it's well mixed. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until the butter resembles small pebbled. Dump the contents into a mixing bowl and add the beaten egg and the lemon zest and stir until the dough holds together. This won't take long. The directions say you can add 1-2 tablespoons of cold water if the dough is too crumbly. It wasn't for me so I didn't take that step.

Make two flat discs of the dough, one larger than the other. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 40 minutes. Something magical happens in the refrigerator, the dough really comes together in there.

Get out your tart pan, with a removable bottom. Cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan. You can really use any shape of tart pan you like. I used an 11x7 but the recipe calls for a 9-inch round. Take out your largest disc of dough once it's properly chilled and roll it out to 1/8 inch thick. No, I don't measure it!! LOL! I just roll it out thin. Don't be afraid to sprinkle flour on it if it's sticking to the rolling pin.

The instructions said to roll the dough on to the rolling pin to transfer it to the tart pan. This mostly worked for me. It was the first time I ever did it and so I feel like I was pretty successful for a beginner! If it breaks, it's not that big of a deal, just push it together in the pan where the breaks are. You can trim the edges with a knife, or you can do what Ellise Pearce taught me (Cowgirl Chef, you know I adore her) and just run your rolling pin right over the top of the tart pan and voilà! the dough is perfectly cut. Take a fork and prick the bottom of the pan full of holes. The cooking term for this is docking. This will prevent the dough from puffing up when you cook it.

Spread the jam over the pastry. Then roll out the smaller disc of pastry you left in the fridge. Cut it into 1/2 long pieces and decorate the top of the tart any way you like. The book showed a lattice pattern. I just did it in squares because I was in a bit of a hurry that day. I also made empanadas and rosemary postatoes so there was quite a lot to do.

Brush the pastry with the egg and cream glaze (ok! I admit it! I forgot this step! It's no big deal if you forget it, it tastes delicious but will not look as pretty.)

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Let cool completely (you'll burn your mouth with that hot jam!) and serve.

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