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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

twd: tartest lemon tart: or, beware of multi-tasking, and loving twitter

I was skeptical of this tart--whole lemons? Pith and all? Whirled together with sugar and cream and eggs and butter in the blender? Poured into a partially baked sweet tart crust and baked?

I almost didn't make it, but I wanted to bring a special mother's day dessert to my Mom, and she does like lemon, and so I made the tart.

On Friday. When I was also:

a) participating in a clean-up at a local park with a student club I advise
b) overseeing a cook-out after the aforementioned clean-up
c) packing for my week-end trip to Michigan
d) filling my car with gas
e) filling the bag-o-money for Illinois and Indiana toll roads
f) rooting around in my closet for something fun to wear for the campus end-of-year party
g) grading research essays
h) going to the store for tart making supplies
i) going out for cocktails with my friend B
j) attending aforementioned party

The tart baking went relatively smoothly, all things, and massive to-do list, considered. I omitted nuts from the crust, since my brother doesn't like them. I used only *some* of the lemon pith after reading comments from other TWD bakers who found the tart too bitter. I failed to read the directions carefully, and had to wait for my butter to melt and cool after I had already started dumping the other ingredients into the blender. Oh, and while the tart shell pre-baked because I forgot to do so before starting the filling.

Despite such baker-error, the tart came out of the oven all gorgeous, with a golden crust and sugary, shimmery lemon filling. I let it cool, popped it into my cake transporter, and went out for the night.

Saturday morning, I grabbed my bags and the container and drove five and a half hour drive to Saugatuck, a short distance from my parents' house, where I met my brother L at my favorite coffee shop. Our plan was to drive the last 15 miles in his car to increase the surprise factor. I transferred my bags and the tart to his car, and we drove the rest of the way, catching up whilst dodging Tulip Time tourists poorly navigating the roads in Holland.

We met Dad near the end of the long driveway, and headed to the house after he told us Mom was on the phone with Grandma. We opened the door and peeked around the entryway into the kitchen and fully surprised Mom. She threw down the phone and shook her head in disbelief. L and I then explained our brilliant plan and our worries that Dad would spill the news before our arrival.

Eventually, I retrieved my bags and the tart from L's car. I set the container on the kitchen counter and set forth enjoying my visit.

On Sunday morning, it occurred to me that the tart *probably* should have been refrigerated. It had now been out in the admittedly tepid world for a good 36 hours. And, of course, I didn't have Dorie's book with me to check her storage suggestions. I did *not* want my lovely tart to cause massive gastrointestinal distress, but I didn't want to immediately relegate the tart to the garbage.

I tweeted my Central/East Coast baking blogger friends, and they promptly returned the news. While Dorie doesn't explicitly mentioned refrigeration, she equivocates: *if* you want to consume at room temperature, make it the same day you plan on serving it. Both Nancy and Cathy had chilled their tarts. And I trust their baking judgment implicitly.

I thoroughly verbally castigated myself, and gazed longingly at the tart. I took it outside for a photo shoot.

"Do you think we can cut off some of that crust?" Mom asked.

We did.

And we sampled a tiny bit of the filling.

It was splendid.

But potentially spoiled.

I took the tart out to the compost pile and said farewell.

That night, after a delicious Mother's Day meal that Mom and I cooked together (she: roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, local asparagus. me: risotto primavera), we ate Palazzolo's triple chocolate gelato with crumbled brownie bits instead.

It too was luscious.

But it wasn't the tartest lemon tart.

Thanks, Barb, of Babette Feasts, for selecting this delicious, and, for me, didactic, dessert. I vow not to multi-task whilst baking, as I never want to throw away another fine dessert...


  1. Sometimes things just go down the drain -- but at least you were able to sample it!

  2. Oh, now I'm thinking I should have lied - all that work to fit the baking in and transport it and you didn't get to enjoy the tart!! Well at least it's not super-difficult so you can squeeze it in (get it? squeeze) another time I hope. Great job surprising your mom - your menu sounds delicious.

  3. Oh no! I'm so sorry to read this. I hope you get a chance to make it again. Still, the happiness of your mom at your arrival makes up for the pie problem.

  4. I am so sorry that happened to you! And it looks so gorgeous!!! I hope you get to make it again, it sounds like you will really like it!

  5. the tart looked delish! at least it will live on in blogland :)

    happy end of semester!

  6. oh no! Hopefully you'll get to this another time, because it really is fun and different.

  7. Oh NO!! I did not realize that the very fate of the dessert itself was hanging in the balance when we tweeted! I might have wanted to think it through a little more (of course bad as it is that you had to throw the dessert away, it would have been much worse if your weekend was spent with anyone in your family in gastrointestinal distress). Well, your tart looks beautiful. I hope someday you get to try it, but hey, triple chocolate gelato doesn't sound half bad either!

  8. This is just a baking tragedy! I can't believe after all that work and effort with your mom, you didn't get to really enjoy it! Next time, right?? Hope you enjoyed your visit with your mom, though!!

  9. Oh, no, all that work and no tart to enjoy. The tart you will always remember. Fun post...and nice photo of the never to be ingested beauty!

  10. So sorry you didn't get to eat it. It looked really nice. You'll have to make it again sometime.

  11. It does look great! sorry that you didn't get to eat any of it!

  12. Anonymous1:50 PM

    Oh no! I think I would have risked it anyway. It looks wonderful. It sounds like you had a great weekend regardless.

  13. AHh bummer..Im glad you got a picture of it though!

  14. Oh, i almost cried reading this. I hope you get to make this again!! I think I owuld have risked it, for myself anyway. I guess I wouldn't have risked giving it to my mom. On Mother's Day. You made the right decision and I hope you had a wonderful visit.

  15. Surprises are awesome - glad you pulled it off! Sorry the tart didn't make it to the table though. Hopefully next time.

  16. I'm sorry you didn't get to eat it -- it was pretty good. And yours looked great, anyway!

  17. Wow..you got a lot done! Sorry you didn't get to eat it...it did look very pretty. Better safe than sorry!

  18. thanks, everyone. i'm definitely going to make this again and read the directions carefully AND properly store. it's too good to pass up!

  19. So beautiful to have to go 'away'. Glad you at least got to taste it. Please make it again. It is worth it.