Monday, January 20, 2014

Bon Appetit's lime tart


From the June 2010 issue. The original recipe calls for the tart to be covered with perfectly arranged blackberries and blueberries, glazed with melted blackberry jam for a "pastry shop presentation." Alas, I did not get around to making this tart until a summery warm day in October, a time when seasonal berries are no longer to be had. I substituted a few grapes, mostly for show. 


And now seems as good a time as any to relay the saga of my Bon Appetit subscription, and of how I am in a bad odor with the billing department there. I was surfing about the net idly one night last April, and happened to look into Bon Appetit's website. An ad for an inexpensive subscription popped up, and I thought, why not. So I clicked yes. I also fatally clicked "bill me."

A few days later, another subscription solicitation arrived in the mail, by chance addressed to my husband. Its offer of a year's worth of issues was even cheaper. I thought, why not, I'll opt for this one instead. So I wrote out my check and mailed it off, and prepared to take in the magazine in his name.

It began to arrive fairly punctually, but so did the reminders about the subscription I had taken out in my own name. I ignored them, reasoning that surely somebody in the bowels of the billing department would figure out that the check in my name, to pay for the subscription in his name, amounted to the fact of the bill being paid. We were not getting, and never did get, two copies of every issue.

No luck. Reminders of the unpaid bill kept coming. By June I was (enjoying the magazine and) writing on the invoices, "Paid," with the April date of my check and the check number, and sending them back at the cost of a stamp mind you, not once but twice.

Now I am receiving sinister yellow envelopes in the mail, blaring "final notice," and learning that my credit is not in good standing with the magazine until this invoice is paid. Still, it keeps coming, and now I, in the guise of my husband, not only get cheery renewal reminders for a subscription which will end next summer, but similar un-looked for offers to take in Allure, Vanity Fair, and I don't know what else.

I do regret being thought a deadbeat by these nice people, but the problem seems already Dickensian enough -- or would Kafka be the better literary analogy? -- without my going to any further efforts to make all clear. Herewith, then perhaps, a peace offering: dear things, I made your lime tart.

You can too. For the entire, "white tie and tails production" as the old Joy of Cooking said about Galantine of Turkey, you will need:


  • 7 eggs, 3 of which you will use whole -- for the other 4, only the yolks are required
  • 1 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 5 or 6 limes)
  • 14 Tbsp butter (1 stick, at room temperature, plus 6 Tbsp., cold)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 large pinch salt
  • fresh fruit for the topping -- to follow the recipe exactly, use 1 (6 oz.) container fresh blueberries, 2 (6 oz.) containers fresh blackberries, and 1 Tbsp blackberry jam for a glaze

Start by making the lime curd. Set a fine mesh strainer over a medium sized bowl and set it aside. Whisk 3 large eggs, 3 egg yolks, and 1 cup sugar in a medium metal bowl to blend. Whisk in the lime juice. (I didn't have a metal bowl, so used a Corelle bowl and hoped against hope it wouldn't break while sitting in a pot of simmering water. This will be important shortly. ...It didn't.)



Set the bowl over a large pan of simmering water. Don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Whisk the lime mixture constantly until the curd thickens and an instant thermometer inserted into it sideways -- be sure to bury the thermometer deep or nothing registers -- reads 175 to 180 degrees. This will take 6 to 10 minutes.

Pour the curd through the waiting mesh strainer into its new bowl. Add 6 Tbsp cold butter, and let stand one minute. Stir until blended and smooth.



Now press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd, covering it completely. This prevents a skin from forming on it while it cools in the refrigerator for the next four hours. (Note, in the background of the photo below, a view of the finished berry-covered lime tart in the pages of Bon Appetit. One should always have an ideal to strive for.)



Next, make the crust. In a medium sized bowl, mix 1 stick of butter, at room temperature, with 1/4 cup sugar until well blended. Add the egg yolk and beat to blend. Add 1 and 1/4 cups flour and a large pinch of salt. Mix until everything resembles large peas (this is a very rich pie dough or shortbread crust, so if you have ever made either of those you will know the hand-feel you are waiting for.) Knead the crust "just until it comes together," but not too much -- it is almost pure butter and will get greasy in a hurry.



Put the dough into a 9-inch springform pan, crumble it, and press it out and up to the sides of the pan. Cover and chill one hour.



When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F. Uncover the dough and bake "until golden brown, about 35 minutes."

I should say not. Thirty-five minutes is much too long for this delicate little pastry, and I don't think my oven's temperature calibration is so far off that my burned tart crust is all my fault. Perhaps "35" in the magazine was a typo for 25 or even 15. At any rate, check your crust for doneness early, and figure it will bake completely in about 20 minutes or so. I checked the dough after 15 minutes and was pleased, and then got overconfident and did not check again until the 30 minute mark, by which time disaster had occurred.

Which is why you can't see a picture of the tart's bottom. (Ha ha.) I will show you my version of the finished product, grapes and everything, because after all one soldiers on, not wanting to waste all the effort, plus the limes and the butter and the eggs.

Once your crust cools, it remains only to assemble the tart. Spoon on the lime curd, arrange some fruit on top -- some sweet fruit is needed, since the curd is very tart -- chill to firm, and you have your June-worthy party dessert. If you can remove the frame to the springform pan, and present your tart seductively nude to the world just like in the picture on page 95, then I salute you. Bon Appetit.



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