How to Bake Everything: Lemon Desserts are the Best Desserts

Text and photos by Emily Stephenson

In case anyone ever asks me what my favorite dessert flavors are (no one has yet), I have that answer ready, in descending order: lemon, caramel, almond.

If your list doesn’t look like mine, the Lemon Tart from How to Bake Everything is still worth trying. It’s also super easy to put together. It’s actually three different recipes from HTBE, which can all be made ahead of time and assembled right before you serve: Sweet Tart Crust, Lemon Curd, and Whipped Cream.

I love lemon curd, but I’ve had lemon curd more than once that tasted not so faintly of overcooked eggs, so I was a little nervous to attempt to make it at home for the first time. The HTBE recipe, thankfully, does not produce this result, just delicious, creamy, lemon tart filling (which you could also use to top pancakes or waffles, spread on muffins, or as the filling for most any cake or cookie, really.)

I brought this tart to a weeknight dinner I had been invited to. I leisurely made the crust and lemon curd the night before. The curd is a snap: put everything in a pot, and whisk until it heats to the designated temperature. The dough comes together in the food processor, then gets pressed into the tart pan and put into the freezer while the oven heats. Just 20 minutes in the oven and the crust is done. I refrigerated the curd and crust separately because I wanted the crust to remain as crisp as possible.

During a work break the next afternoon, I filled the crust with the lemon curd and whipped the cream for the topping, following the book’s instructions on how to whip cream in advance (hint: it involves crème fraîche). When it was time to serve dessert, all I had to do was spread the whipped cream over the curd (which I didn’t entirely cover because I loved the look of the yellow peeking through).

The tart was a huge hit, both with the diners and the chef. I can’t believe how easy it was, especially for someone who has always seen pies and tarts as day-long projects that are better left to the professionals.

Posted in Baking, Mark Bittman Books, Uncategorized

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