Thursday, August 20, 2015

Brooke Dojny: Sour Lemon Tart in a Graham Cracker Crust

Blueberry season inspires a summery adaptation of a simple lemon tart.

Isobel’s lemon blueberry tart. Photo courtesy of the author.
During a recent trip to my CSA here in Maine, local baker Isobel Cunningham brought the most beautiful lemon blueberry tart to the baked goods table. I had to fend people off while I took a picture of it, and when I left, the tart was half gone! Sorry to say, the place was far too busy to ask Isobel for the recipe, but I see no reason why you couldn’t make my Sour Lemon Tart in a Graham Cracker Crust (recipe below) and heavily sprinkle the top with blueberries. 

In the meantime, here a few favorite blueberry facts, along with lore, tips, and tricks for making the most of summer’s berry bounty.
  • One of North America’s few native fruits (cranberries and wild grapes are two others), low bush blueberries grow thickly on treeless sandy barrens in coastal Maine, particularly way Down East in Washington County.
  • Some growers are using mechanical harvesters, but most blueberry harvesting is still done by hand with a steel rake that is pulled through the tangled branches to tease out the intact berries.
  • Recent studies have found that blueberries are extremely high in antioxidants.
  • Blueberries are 85 percent water and most of the flavor is in the skin. Since small, low bush berries have a greater proportion of skin, their flavor is more intense that that of larger high bush blueberries.
  • When buying blueberries, check the sides and bottom of the cardboard container for juice stains. Stains are an indication of over-ripeness, which can lead to mold.
  • Store blueberries in the refrigerator in their original carton. If fresh, they’ll keep this way for about a week.
  • Rinse blueberries gently in cold water before using or serving.
  • To freeze raw blueberries, rinse gently, drain, and spread out onto a rimmed, paper towel-lined baking sheet. Freeze until berries are frozen through, then pour frozen berries into freezer bags and seal well. They should retain their individuality and not clump into a solid mass. Rinse gently to remove any ice crystals.
  • Blueberries that are cooked with a little sugar for a few minutes until they reach a sauce-like consistency also freeze well. 
  • You can remove berry stains from your white shirt by stretching the cloth over a bowl and pouring boiling water down over the stain. 
Photo © Keller + Keller Photography, excerpted from Chowderland. All rights reserved.

Sour Lemon Tart in a Graham Cracker Crust

Yield: 8 servings

7 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Filling and Topping
2 eggs
6 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ cup grated lemon zest (see Notes)
½ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 very thin lemon slice

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C.
  2. For the crust, process the graham crackers in a food processor to make fine, even crumbs, about 30 seconds. You should have 1 cup of crumbs. Sprinkle the butter and granulated sugar over the crumbs and pulse to blend. Turn out into a 9- to 9½-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Use the bottom of a glass to press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom of the pan and bring them most of the way up the sides.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the crust is fragrant and barely begins to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. (Can be made a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  4. When you’re ready to make the filling, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
  5. For the filling, whisk the eggs, yolks, granulated sugar, and salt in a medium nonreactive saucepan (see Note), then whisk in the lemon zest and juice. Place the pan over medium-low heat. Add the butter and cook, whisking constantly, until the butter melts, steam rises, and the mixture thickens into a moderately thick lemon curd, about 5 minutes. Pour the warm filling into the cooled crust.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is pale golden brown and the edges are set but the center still jiggles when gently shaken, 20 5o 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and refrigerate until ready to add the topping. (Can be made to this point several hours ahead.)
  7. For the topping, whip the cream with the confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread the cream over the top of the tart and place the lemon slice in the center. (Can be made 2 to 3 hours ahead and refrigerated.)
  8. Remove the tart from the pan and place on a serving platter. Cut into wedges to serve.

Aluminum or cast-iron pans can turn the egg mixture a greenish color. Any other material is fine.

You will need 3 to 4 lemons for this amount of zest and juice. Zest the lemons (colder lemons grate better) before squeezing out the juice.

Recipe excerpted from Chowderland © 2015 by Brooke Dojny. Photo © Keller + Keller Photography. All rights reserved.

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