Welcome back to the second installment of the #RomBakeOff Challenge. I introduced this series of blog posts last week discussing Mini Victoria Sponges. Carrie Ann Ryan also did a post with her results. This week the task was to make Tartes au Citron otherwise known as Individual Lemon Tarts. The base recipe again came from Mary Berry and it really involved quite a few tricky bits. First was getting the crust right so it would be flakey, contain the custard filling, and bake up without a soggy bottom. Second was getting the filling just right both the making and the baking. Third and what appeared to be a huge downfall for some of the #GBBO contestants was actually getting the tarts out of their tins without destroying them. For the ambitious, a fourth tricky bit of actually attempting to write something on the tarts instead of piping a decoration.
Once again I knew I needed to make a gluten free (GF) crust. Crust is finicky. Even with the perfect recipe getting it to come out just right can be a challenge so I didn’t want to just dive in and do a one for one swap of GF flour and regular flour. [spoiler]I have also only made homemade crust ONCE and that was many many years ago before I discovered my quality of life was better without gluten. Since then I have found a decent frozen GF crust which had become my go-to but this was all about the challenge so I rolled up my sleeves and got to researching.
America’s Test Kitchen has published what I think are my two favorite Gluten Free Cookbooks, How Can It Be Gluten Free Vol 1 and How Can It Be Gluten Free vol 2. King Arthur Flour is also a great resource. [/spoiler]I compared the tart crust recipe from How Can It Be Gluten Free vol 1 to the challenge recipe and determined the overall amount of crust made should be enough to fill 12 tart tins if I divided it properly.
Crust recipe determined, next I looked at the custard. A few twitter conversations later with some of my fellow bakers and with Ninja_Mom and I was really wondering why the recipe didn’t call for a cooked custard. I am familiar with cooked custards and I knew I wanted the filling to be really lemony, smooth and creamy for the mouth fill, and not have any of the bounce or weeping too many egg whites can add. So I turned back to my cookbook and discovered a perfect lemon curd filling.
Then came the excitement. I was scheduled to have a Sous Chef, aka the Lil Bro, for this challenge but he showed up several hours late so I had to get started without him. First stages of crust making went smoothly but then I had to determine if I had added enough ice water or not. I didn’t have any sort of visual memory to work off of because the GF dough looked very different from what I remembered seeing regular pie crust dough resemble. But I employed the pinch test and the dough held together so I decided to stop tinkering.
Then came the higher maths as I weighed and then divided my crust into 12 sections. [spoiler]I need a more finely accurate kitchen scale. I am not very good at the skill of rolling out dough and I knew the GF crust would be harder to handle then regular crust so I decided to roll them out individually after chilling. I have to be completely honest, after I had the dough in the fridge my cooking confidence was at an all time low because of my worry about my crust.[/spoiler]
Rolling and putting the crust in the individual tins complete with parchment paper strips to aid de-tinning the tarts was made much easier with the Lil Bro’s assistance. He suggested that instead of putting the paper in the tin first to lay the paper on the crust then lower it all into the tin at once. From there it was just trimming the edges and patching any areas in need of reinforcement. Blind baking was also entertaining as we tried to get the crust cooked without overly browning.
As the crust cooled it was time to make the filling. Seven (7!) egg yolks, couple of whole eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, butter, were whisked together on the stove until it thickened and reached 170F. Then it was strained, I didn’t have any curdled egg so what remained in my sieve was some of the larger pieces of lemon zest, and heavy cream added to the strained mixture. After filling the cups and carefully placing the tarts in the oven it was tasting time. Lets just say I might have lemon curd on biscuits, scones, etc in the near future because I had some left over and SO GOOD!
After the tarts baked we had to de-tin them and then have fun with chocolate before judgement was rendered.
Final verdict – another resounding success! Flaky delicate crust, no soggy bottoms, tart, smooth, and creamy filling just need to practice my delicate piping skills.
Don’t forget to check out a fellow baker’s success and follow our hashtag #RomBakeOff on Twitter and Instagram. The next challenge is scheduled for early January. I hope to see you back here then.
P.S. Now I have to do something with eight egg whites… any suggestions? Peppermint meringes are already on the list.