Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tarte au Citron

It has been particularly rough and tumble this week. Today I decided to take the lemons that have filled my ace of cups and try and transform this into something good.

We helped some old school friends of Loic move house not too long back, and we sat down to a nice satisfying meal prepared by Elisabeth and her mother at the end of the day. Naturally curious to see what goes on in the kitchen, I nosed my way back and saw, out on the table on the back porch where the sun was beaming in at an angle that would only last an instant, that they were making a pie. She had a kind of bowl shaped pan that looked deliciously old and had thick handles bolted on either side. Like many of the kitchen table tartes I've seen, she had rolled out the pâte rather roughly and thickly. What made it really nice was that she just placed the dough in the cradle of this rounded pan, and there seemed to be a kind of harmony and humbleness about it. She made a custard and haphazardly cut some fruits. It struck me as a very successful pie mainly because all razzle dazzle had been completely omitted from it. What was left was pure and honest. Elisabeth and her family come from the mountains. We enjoyed this pie while they talked about skiing hors piste and braving mountain dangers. The closest thing I have to the pan that Elisabeth had is a wok, but one of my old tourtieres will also do just fine. It was a nice little pan that summed up simple pleasures. I'd like to find one like it.

Tarte au Citron

This recipe was gleaned in part from a clipping from an old French magazine called Raymond Oliver's Chez Vous, dated from December 1960. I was suprised to see that they did have immersion blenders back in the early 60s. It was called a "mixer-baby Moulinex" in those days. One big difference was that in this recipe he used some kind of centrifuge strainer called the "Spiromix" to strain the zeste, but it seems an accessory to the recipe itself. I have done this recipe many times and it works well with a simple wire mesh strainer. I think initially this recipe was adapted from an old grandmother's classic to serve as an advertising promotion for the "Spiromix".

1 batch Basic Pâte Brisée
1 lemon
300 grams or 1 1/2 cups sugar
60 grams or 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
one egg
1.5 cups of water

- Prepare your Basic Pâte Brisée and set it in a cool place to rest.

- Thoroughly wash the lemon under cool running water. Cut it into slices and then those slices into quarters, and remove the seeds. Put the entire lemon complete with its peel, 50 grams (1/4 cup) of the sugar, and 1.5 cups of water into a bowl or pint sized cup with high sides that the blender will fit into. Pulverize the lemon sugar water mixture to a puree. (you can also do this with any counter-top blender.)

- Strain the pureed lemon, sugar, and water through a wire strainer and into a cup, pushing it down to remove as much liquid from the pulp as you can. Set aside the liquid that comes from it for use in lemonade.

- Place the lemon pulp, the rest of the sugar, and the butter into the upper part of the bain marie, and let it cook over soft heat, stirring it gently with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes.

- Remove the bain marie from the heat and add the egg. Incorporate it quickly with the blender.

-Roll out one large or two small tarte shells rather thickly, pierce them to avoid bubbling, and pour the resulting custard into the shells. Cook for 25-30 minutes, in a moderate (350F/170C degrees) oven, until the custard sets. Let it cool to room temp before serving.

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Blogger wheresmymind said...

Pie without the razzle dazzle...what a concept! Still, I could go for some whipped cream on top...that is only dazzle, not razzle ;)

7:01 PM, September 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another one of my favorite desserts. I love the rustic look of your tart!

10:03 PM, September 13, 2006  
Blogger Fabienne said...

Waou, this tart is gorgeous !

10:31 PM, September 13, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

It really is making my mouth water.

The scones I am about to bake will not do now. . .

2:39 AM, September 14, 2006  
Blogger Jann said...

This is wonderful! And, rather un-complicated! Happy Cooking!

1:29 AM, September 15, 2006  
Blogger L Vanel said...

I have a confession to make, I made the tarte pictured above using duck fat instead of butter. It was delicious. The butter version is also delicious. Mea Culpa.

8:36 AM, June 18, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Merci Beaucoup !!

Thank you very much for publishing this recipe for the most wonderful dessert I've ever tasted.

And the by-products - the leftover juice blended with ice, a generous measure of vodka and a splash of soda - helped to while away the time the pate brisee needed to chill.

Abosulutey wonderful - it was for me like discovering a lemon for the first time ! merci bien !

al gillis, toronto, canada

11:52 PM, July 01, 2009  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Sounds like the perfect way to use the juice, Al. Your commenting on this post gives me motivation to prepare this pie when we go to see the baby's grandmother. Thanks for reading and thanks for letting me know how it turned out.

9:25 AM, July 02, 2009  
Blogger Catanea said...

Lucy! I miss you blog updates.
This tarte inspires a question: how would the lemon be pulverised in the original recipe (before blenders)? Chopped finely and put through a hand-turned food mill? Would that work? Grated first? Have you any older neighbours or friends you can ask?

9:41 AM, November 23, 2015  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Hi Catanea! This unconventional recipe was actually created in 1960 by Chef Raymond Olivier in his magazine as a promotion for the "Mixer-baby Moulinex", so the original recipe actually requires the blender. If you don't want to use one, there are many wonderful recipes out there that involve making a curd using the zest and some juice of the lemon, blind baking the shell, and then assembly of the two. This is a more classic French treatment of a tarte au citron. From what I remember, Dori Greenspan does Pierre Hermé's deluxe version of the lemon curd in her big baking book, called Baking, From my Home to Yours and it is absolutely heavenly. Try that if you don't want to use a blender!

9:50 AM, November 23, 2015  

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