We have a Meyer Lemon tree, well maybe small bush is more accurate. A few months ago we harvested about 8 lemons off the “tree.” Mostly the lemons were used in hot water and tea, but they can be used just as easily in baking. I bought the lemons for this at Whole Foods for a fairly decent price. I should have just asked a neighbor if I could pick a couple from their tree. That’s one of the great things about living in San Diego, there is a lot of fresh produce year round. Well, unless you’re looking for Lemon Verbena.
The original recipe used Lemon Verbena in the cream. I visited five grocery stores, called an additional six and eventually ended up replacing the verbena with lemon balm I got at Home Depot. I was amazed at how many produce managers confused “lemon verbena herb” with a fruit. It’s a green leafy herb with a lemon flavor. Despite living in the 8th largest city in America some things are hard to find. Maybe I gave up too soon, but the lemon balm worked just as well.
The recipe and detailed instructions are at the end of this post. For this recipe, we need lemon balm leaves, heavy cream, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, unsalted butter, eggs, bread flour, cornstarch, and Meyer lemons. Looks like we have it all. Ready, set, bake…
Those are blood oranges in the center of the picture. They were purchased about five days before I made the tart. I was trying to find lemon verbena and they became too ripe to use as a garnish. Blood oranges are in season right now, so if you have never tried one now is the time. They are slightly smaller than a regular orange, dark red on the inside and taste like a regular orange only a bit tart.
Chop the lemon balm leaves finely. Place the cream, lemon balm, and sugar in a saucepan and stir continually until it boils. Cool the mixture to room temperature and then refrigerate, covered, overnight.
Regular whipped cream with a little sugar will work just as well if you don’t want to try infusing it with lemon flavor.
Combine the butter, brown sugar and a beaten egg in a mixing bowl. Mix at low speed, using the dough hook attachment until just combined. Add the flour and continue to mix until the dough is smooth. Do not mix longer than necessary.
Flatten the dough between a piece of folded parchment paper and refrigerate until cold. Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick on a floured surface. Place the dough over the tart pan without pressing down on the dough. Using a finger, press the dough into the inside outer corners while holding the dough up from the side with the other hand, so that it does not get pressed against the top of the tart pan. Run a rolling pin over the top to cut the dough on the tart form. Use a fork prick the dough in the bottom of the pan.
Refrigerate until firm enough to work with. It took me three tries to get this dough rolled out. The trick was working as fast as possible and using a tiny bit more flour than usual on the rolling surface. If it starts to break or stick to the rolling pin before you can place it over the tart form, put it back in the refrigerator for 20 minutes and try again.
Put two pieces of plastic wrap over the tart dough and fill with pie weights (I use dried kidney beans). Make sure the plastic wrap is brought together in the middle and not touching any metal or it will make a mess and ruin your crust. Bake at 375° (190° C) for 12 minutes, or until crust edges are golden brown. Remove weights return to oven for 5 more minutes.
While the crust is baking combine the cornstarch and the sugar. Mix in the eggs, the egg yolks, lemon zest, and lemon juice, stirring until the ingredients are well combined. Do not whip or beat this mixture.
Place the mixing bowl over a bain-marie (water bath) and heat, stirring constantly, until the filling thickens. Remove from heat right after it thickens.
As soon as the tart shell comes out of the oven fill it with the filling. Bake for 15 minutes at 350° (175° C) or until the filling has thickened. Cool completely.
Strain leaves from the cream. The original recipe says to not worry if you don’t get all the lemon herb out. I don’t like any of it in the cream though, it looks a little to close to mold and is not appetizing. Whip the cream and decorate tart as desired.
Recipe: Meyer Lemon Tarts
Adapted from The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry, 4th Edition, Meyer Lemon Tarts with Lemon Verbena Whipped Cream and Blood Orange Segments, Bo Friberg,Print Recipe
Yield: 8 slices, one 11″ tart
- 1/3 ounce (10g) lemon balm leaves
- 1 cups (240 ml) heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons (10g) granulated sugar
Tart and Filling
- 5.4 ounces (152 g) granulated sugar
- 2.5 ounces (75 g) light brown sugar
- 3.3 ounces (95 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 egg
- 8 whole eggs
- 3 egg yolks (54 ml)
- 4.3 ounces (123 g) bread flour
- 2 2/3 tablespoons (22 g) cornstarch
- Finely grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons
- 400 ml Meyer lemon juice
- Chop the lemon balm leaves finely. Combine in a saucepan with the cream and sugar and bring to a boil while stirring. Cool the mixture to room temperature and then refrigerate, covered, overnight.
- Combine the butter, brown sugar and a beaten egg in a mixing bowl. Mix at low speed, using the dough hook attachment until just combined. Add the flour and continue to mix until the dough is smooth. Do not mix longer than necessary. Refrigerate until firm enough to work with.
- Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch. Using a fork prick the dough in the bottom of the pan. Blind bake at 375° (190° C) for 12 minutes or until crust edges are golden brown. Remove weights return to oven for 5 minutes longer. Once crust is done lower oven temperature to 350° (175° C).
- While the crust is baking stir the cornstarch into the sugar. Mix in 8 eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest, and lemon juice, stirring until the ingredients are well combined. Do not whip or beat this mixture.
- Place the mixing bowl over a bain-marie (water bath) and heat, stirring constantly, until the filling thickens. Remove from heat right away.
- As soon as the tart shell comes out of the oven fill with filling. Bake for 15 minutes at 350° (175° C) or until the filling has thickened. Cool completely.
- Strain leaves from the cream. Whip the cream and decorate tart as desired.