Our friends Jim and Colleen organized a terrific beach trip to the Outer Banks over Memorial Day weekend. As is the routine with our annual cabin trip to Shenandoah each fall, everyone on the trip split up the responsibilities for making meals, and Tom and I were assigned to handle dinner on Saturday night.
Tom handled proteins and vegetables, and I took on the rest. I made an appetizer course of Gruyère gougères and a vegetarian main course of beet ravioli with poppy seed butter (I highly recommend both of these recipes, they both turned out great and were very well received). For dessert, I knew that a summery fruit tart would be perfect for our dinner at the beach. Tom and I bought some delicious small strawberries at a fruit stand on the way to the beach house, and so I was excited to try out the recipe for the Fresh Strawberry Tart with Lemon Cream from The Craft of Baking.
This tart has a cream cheese crust (butter, cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt) that is mixed, chilled, rolled out, and blind baked. Once the crust is cool, you fill it with a lemon cream that is made by folding whipped cream into lemon curd (lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, egg yolks, salt, and butter). The tart is topped with strawberries and chilled before serving.
I had some trouble with the crust shrinking, even though I blind baked it with pie weights. I would happily make this tart again, but if I ever do, I will fill the tart crust with straight lemon curd and save myself the effort of mixing in whipped cream to make lemon cream. I ended up with a lot of leftover lemon cream, which was just wasteful. Also, I didn't like the airy texture of the lemon cream; it did not set firm and made a mess when I cut the tart, even after the tart had spent a few hours in the refrigerator. Finally, I thought the lemon flavor was too dilute with the cream mixed in. Nonetheless, the crust was tender and tasty and the sweet strawberries were a wonderful contrast to the refreshing lemon flavor.
While my execution of this tart wasn't quite perfect, it was still a nice finish to a meal kicking off the unofficial start of summer!
Recipe: "Fresh Strawberry Tart with Lemon Cream," from The Craft of Baking: Cakes, Cookies & Other Sweets with Ideas for Inventing Your Own by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox.