I promised I’d be back with a better recipe for you, and lo and behold, here I am! That’s not to say I’ve relaxed much since I last posted, but at least I’m feeling a bit more control, and for me, control is essential. I’ve still got a 160 person wedding cake to construct this weekend, but I was practicing like a mad woman all of last weekend, baking test cakes, trying new versions of my favorite buttercream, and piping for hours… and all signs point to it being okay. Keep your fingers crossed for me, would you?! I’ll be sure to report back on how it goes.
I made this tart a while ago, when berries were plentiful and lemon was the flavor of the season. Things are changing now – pumpkin is making it’s long-awaited resurgance, everyone’s adding spices to their recipes, and there’s talking of apple picking and apple cider and apple pie. But I always figure, better late than never – and this recipe is something I know I’ll want to return to when the weather warms again.
Often times I find inspiration from what others have done when I’m making a new recipe, then I make tweaks and add touches to make it more my own. This recipe, however, was born out of the desire for a creamy lemon dessert that screamed summer – and as I continued to dream it up in my mind the separate components started to come to me. The end result was pretty much exactly what I’d been hoping for, which is always nice. Something about it makes it feel so comforting and homey, without being heavy or too rich. It hit just the right notes of fresh fruit, creamy lemon custard, and crunchy sweet cookie base. It was delightful!
I started with a sweet pastry crust that incorporats walnuts – a touch I absolutely loved in the final product. I’ve actually used the same pastry recipe on numerous occasions, and find that it is very versatile. There are few pastry crusts I enjoy more. For the filling, I made a lemon “mousse” – inspired by the days when I used to cater and would make vats of lemon mousse by mixing whipped cream and lemon curd. I wouldn’t say it’s a true mousse, but it certainly seems like one despite it being super simple. If you’ve never tried it, you better! Atop the lemon mousse I piled a trio of berries, lightly dressed with orange liqueur and a touch of sugar. Delightful!
If you’re not quite ready for the transition to fall, this would make for one heck of a final hurrah.
Lemon Cream Fruit Tart
pastry adapted from Always with Butter
8 tablespoons (1 stick; 12 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons finely ground walnuts
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup lemon curd, homemade or storebought (I used this recipe)
3/4 cup strawberries
3/4 cup blueberries, blackberries, raspberries (any combination)
1 tablespoon of orange liqeur (like Cointreau or Gran Gala)
Optional: sugar, for sweetening berries
Butter a 9″ tart pan, or a few small ones (like I did – I think it made about 6). Set aside.
Pastry: In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and the sugar, and stir to blend well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to form a soft, cookie-like dough. Transfer the dough to the center of the buttered pan(s). Using the tips of your fingers, evenly press the pastry along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. The pastry will be very thin. With a fork, poke a few holes in the dough so it doesn’t puff up too much while cooking.
Place the pan(s) in the center of the oven and bake until the dough is nicely golden brown and set, 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Filling: In a medium bowl, whip heavy cream until thick, and soft peaks form. You want the cream to have enough structure that it will stand up to the lemon curd. Fold lemon curd into the whipped cream gently, taking care not to beat out the air you just whipped into the cream. Fold until completely incorporated, then set aside. Cut strawberries into halves or quarters (depending on size and preference), and mix with the berries of your choice. Add orange liqueur to your fruit, and a few teaspoons of sugar if your fruit needs sweetening, then stir to distribute. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. While the berries are macerating, spoon the lemon mousse into baked and cooled tart shell(s), and spread to distribute evenly. Top with macerated berries, and enjoy!