Lemon berry tart. Lately, I’ve been wanting to find a harder than average bake because, let’s be honest, the funniest stories will be the bakes I royally fuck up. I was imaging in my head that a tart should be pretty difficult but after spending half an hour perusing the interwebs for a moderately difficult recipe, I didn’t quite find a recipe that I was convinced would 100% wreck my shit.
With it being berry season in the PNW, I had to pay homage to my favorite beer ever- Bridgeport Brewing’s Stumptown Tart, which they hilariously don’t have featured on their site right now. It’s a seasonal Belgian fruit infused beer that varies year to year. I fell in love with their 2014 Cran-Blueberry version and try to make it an annual goal to horde as many of their limited collection bottles as possible. 2017 was no different and today marks my last bottle of the Blueberry and Black Raspberry run. It is only fitting I wrap up this year’s Stumptown Tart with a tart of my own. Though if given an either/or choice on any given day, 99 times out of 100, my tart of choice would be Stumptown.
Sooooo… Today’s lemon berry tart recipe comes from the baking blog Completely Delicious:
Crust 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 2 tbsp granulated sugar 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter 1 egg yolk 2-3 tsp ice water Filling 2 cups whole milk 5 egg yolks 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup cornstarch 1 lemon zest 1/4 cup unsalted butter 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1 lemon juice 2-3 cups fresh berries of choice Combine flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Add cubed butter and cut into other ingredients until course and sandy. Whisk egg yolk and two tablespoons ice water. Add the mixture in the bowl and shape into a ball. Cover, wrap in plastic. Chill at least one hour. On a floured surface, roll crust out to 12" circle. Move to 8" pie pan and press in, removing overhanging crust. Chill 30 more minutes. Line crust with greased foil and fill tart with baking weights. Cook at 375° for 20 minutes. Remove weights and bake 10 more minutes or until golden. Warm milk in medium sauce pan over medium heat just until bubbles appear, do not boil. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest. When milk is warm, add to egg mixture in a slow steady stream, whisk continuously. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat until thick. Stir constantly 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in butter, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Pour into a bowl, cover, pressing wrap onto custard surface. Chill 1-2 hours. Spread custard into crust, top with berries. Enjoy that shit.Overall, the recipe feels pretty straight forward with no real hiccups foreseen. I haven’t yet made a custard, though it doesn’t appear any more difficult than simply whisking some eggs. Is my baking naiveté showing again?
One thing I am looking to improve upon is the fruit itself. No offense to the original recipe creator, but I’m unimpressed with the berries simply being heaped onto the custard. It’s a bit too… unrefined for my tastes. (look at me, six bakes down and I’m already raising my nose at far more accomplished bakers) Perhaps while the dough chills, I’ll find a compote or something a little flashier with which to dress the tart. Or perhaps I’ll intricately lay each piece of fruit individually. Although…
Upon reading through the recipe again, there’s a lot of wait time. As my family and friends know all too well, I’m notoriously impatient. If there’s a difficulty level to this recipe, for me, it’s absolutely simply having to wait. Let’s get started already!
the bakeIngredients are pulled out, measured and mixed. Nothing too crazy happened here. As usual, I am a little confused about exactly how much liquid to add to the dough and the exact consistency I’m trying to attain with the dough ball.
I follow the recipe with the two tablespoons of ice water added to the egg yolk but the mixture is still much more dry than anything and certainly is not “ball creation consistency.” I end up adding another 2.5 tablespoons of ice water to the mixture. Even then, there are still some pretty dry parts of the dough and attempting to ball it together still yields chunks of dough cracking off.
Nervous to make the dough too wet, I call it “probably good,” and toss it into the plastic wrap. I don’t have the largest hands (and this, in fact, is an understatement in itself), so perhaps lacking adequate pressure on all sides of the dough while balling it contributed to it not keeping itself together. Once I get the dough in the plastic wrap, I’m able to much more successfully apply proper pressure to all parts of the dough without it falling apart.
Of note, I actually heeded the recipe’s call for unsalted butter for this bake, much to Nadia’s and my chicken pot pie’s chagrin. I feel like this is the first baking lesson I’ve learned so far that I’ve put into action. Go brain, go!
Pleased, I place the dough in the fridge for some chill.
[waits one hour]
So I don’t have a true “tart” pan but I again consider my only pie tin as “good enough.” Sure, I won’t get those fancy crimped edges and the crust angle will be greater than 90° but I can’t see any reason why the regular pan won’t work beyond your typical tart aesthetics.
I begin compiling my filling ingredients and I grab the corn meal. “Ok, strange ingredient… I totally thought this would be used in the crust but none was added there. It goes… in the filling…? Hmm…”
As I rewrote the original recipe, I absolutely read corn starch but envisioned corn meal– of which you can note in the ingredients photo above. Fast forward to actually creating the filling, and I indeed pull out the corn meal from the cupboard and again question how funny of an ingredient it is. I mean, in my head, it’s so commonly associated with savory bakes and bread (e.g. on crusts), so why would it be in this sweet treat’s custard filling?
I’m about to open the corn meal to measure it out and only have this hard, grainy texture filling my visions of the completed custard tart and frankly, it’s revolting. So revolting, in fact, I have to pause and investigate. I rummage through the cupboard again and there’s my corn starch. HOLY SHIT SNACKS I FLIRTED WITH DISASTER AND GOT AWAY WITH IT.
Wow, that was amazingly close. After laughing at my dance with failure, I continue with the custard. Did I mention how easy this recipe was? Oh, right. CUSTARD.
At first, I’m like, “yadda yadda yadda,” whisk egg yolks, add corn starch and sugar, beat this, add that. I have this shit on lock. My milk is hot as fuck and I add it to my egg mixture and toss it back into the pan to resume “cooking until thick.” Boom, next.
I forgot that eggs commonly tend to coagulate when heated. I now begin the delicate ensemble of “Is my pan too hot for my egg and milk mixture?” As I’m “cooking until thick,” my spatula is accumulating thicker masses of egg on the end of it and I get nervous as hell that I’m simply scrambling my custard. Shiiiiiiiiiit.
I remove the pan from the heat, resume stirring and get to a point where I arbitrarily think it’s ok to return to the heat. Sure/Shockingly enough, within four minutes, the custard begins to thicken and I don’t have scrambled eggs. All appears to be what I deem as “normal.” I add my butter, lemon juice, and vanilla and give it another few minutes of stirring. The custard smoothes out as
expected sincerely hoped and I think I’m sitting pretty.
I get this dumped into a bowl for cooling and begin work on rolling out the crust.
I unwrap it and start to play with it a touch to check its consistency. It cracks in many places immediately and I get quite concerned. As I begin to roll out the dough, I feel my concern is justified.Oh my. This doesn’t look good to me. At all.
I keep rolling it out and it eventually sort of resembles a dough. It’s a bit janky looking, but playing by the typical good enough mantra, into the oven it goes.I cobble together my own baking weights with a handful of ramekins. It isn’t ideal, but it works. I get this in for 20 minutes, remove the weights as prescribed, and toss it in for another 10 minutes.
This shit is definitely not “golden brown.” I bake it an extra six minutes, but never really achieve the color for which I’m hoping. I get the impression that the dough itself is a touch too thick for a crust, contributing to the lack of color. I employ my trusty life motto once again and pull it from the oven. Thus begins the waiting game for everything to cool.Oh, yeah, do I find a glaze or compote recipe? Hmm…
[waits two more hours and has two gin drinks since, you know, it fits the theme being made with berries and all]
So, I’ve decided to add a glaze to make this tart shiny as fuck. Who doesn’t want brightly colored fruit to adorn their dessert? I found a quick recipe that essentially boils down to:
- heat preserves over the stovetop until it loosens up
- add some water if necessary [however much this means]
- brush over fruit
Cool, this sounds easy. So, I’m changing the original tart recipe to include a more intricate pattern of fruit (instead of overt berry regurgitation onto the top of the custard) and to glaze them until beautiful.
Easy peasy. The custard is still a touch thin, but with dinner still three hours off, I anticipate it thickening more yet once judgment time comes (thanks to my quick ninja thinking noticing the corn mean/starch mix up). I haphazardly create some fancy fruit design shit and get my preserves heating in the pan.
Once heated, I add a touch of water, glaze the fruit, and toss it back in the fridge to set more.
- It’s relatively difficult to find, er, difficult recipes on the internet. Most recipes appear created for someone who’s never seen a kitchen before
- Eggs coagulate when combined with heat, regardless if they’re breakfast or a custard
- Custard is harder than “whisking eggs”
- Don’t try new things and try to improve upon them (from the original recipe) simultaneously
Appearance: 5/10 Cakies- “It looked great before cutting but pretty terrible after.”
Appeal: 5/10 Cakies- “Eh, it’s a mess. Not much of a scent, either.”
Taste: 7/10 Cakies- “It could use more glaze on the berries since the custard itself isn’t sweet enough to counteract some berry tartness.”
Overall: 7/10 Cakies- “The texture is obviously off, taste is good, lemon comes through.” Score was originally a 6, but crust knocked it up a notch. Nadia got a second piece after cleaning up the first.
Best part: Crust!
Worst part: The tart berries needed more glaze, though is a custard close second.
I am pleasantly surprised by how the crust came out. It was dense, but not in the bad way when it comes to baked goods. The texture and bake were spot on, perhaps the best baked item so far. Yes!
Clearly, I’m a custard rookie. Unfortunately, I’m not super sure where I went wrong. With how thin it ended up, I assume it was too much milk ( or lemon juice?), though I imagine there could have been errors in the actual cooking process.
So, this was supposed to be easy. Perhaps next bake I won’t be so eager to not only dive into a more difficult bake and try to improve up on it all at the same time.