During my trip to Sydney my mom and I visited a little bakery in the city called CBD – Central Baking Depot. We weren’t very hungry but I was determined to find a “must see” bakery while we had some free time. After a quick google search using my precious international data plan, we trekked out and found the little bakery tucked in amongst the large towering buildings.
We shared a meat pie, fresh lemonade/lemon squash (did you know that what Americans call lemon lime soda, Australians call lemonade? After all these years it still confuses me), and the star of the show, a lemon curd brulee tart. I know, a lemon curd tart with a bruleed top, not very exciting or innovative, right? But this was something else. This is what I love most about baking, taking the simple and classic but making it special. A standard tart shell was transformed into a crisp and flaky yet sturdy and deliciously caramelized crust, filled with a smooth, bright, but not too tart lemon curd, finished off with the perfect thickness of melted sugar that shattered into perfect bite size pieces.
On a side note, it just dawned on me that my description above can come off like I’m some sort of pretentious foodie. While the term might have originated from those who are appreciators of good food, it’s now been turned into almost a mild insult. Instead of simply enjoying all types of food, it’s become a “cool” thing to be a part of whether or not you pick up the slight nuances of flavor and texture. I’m probably just digging myself into a deeper hole but I hope you know what I mean. What do you guys think of the word foodie? I pretty much cringe every time I hear it and it makes me cry inside being called one (just kidding. kind of.) But I digress…
CBD’s lemon brulee tart was a perfect example of making an ordinary dessert exceptional, which is what I strive for in my own baking experiments. I’m not interested in using exotic ingredients or extreme cooking techniques. As much as I’d love to experience eating at Alinea and other fancy restaurants, when it comes to making things myself I love working with classic flavor combinations as well executed as possible. No gimmicks or trends or anything like that.
Well! This turned into quite a different blog post than I expected. If you’re here just for pictures and a recipes now’s about time you start reading again 😉
As you can see, my tart crust was quite different and the bruleed top is not quite thick or caramelized enough. I wouldn’t say this is an attempt at recreating the tart, just inspired by what I had available. I had some extra tart shells (which are great to have on hand, they’re multipurpose and I believe you can even freeze them) and I almost always have this lemon cream in the fridge. For the brulee I used a miniature blow torch that isn’t very powerful. I tried using my broiler but the edges seemed to just get burned. Oh well, delicious nonetheless and something to work towards!
These are made from pâte sucrée, a recipe that you can find at Martha Stewart. Or just use your favorite tart crust! I molded mine in a muffin tin, so you can make several a time. They’re kind of like a crispier, less sweet sugar cookie that can be used with all sorts of fillings.
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
3 oz sugar (about 3/8 c)
2 oz butter (1/2 stick)
With a stainless steel or glass (pyrex) bowl, create a double boiler and place over saucepan filled with 2 inches of water. Over medium heat bring water to a simmer. Combine lemon juice, eggs, and sugar and continually whisk ingredients until mixture is registers 180 F and has become very thick, about 10-12 minutes. Take mixture off stove and let cool for a couple minutes. Cut butter into 1″ pieces, then using an immersion blender slowly add butter to incorporate. Add one piece at a time until it is fully incorporated.
1. Fully bake your tart shells, then let cool and store until ready to use.
2. Make lemon cream as listed above (or make your own favorite lemon curd recipe).
3. Fill tart shells with lemon cream, then top off with sugar. Place in broiler or use a torch to melt the sugar until caramelized and forms an even layer. I had more success coating the tart with several thin layers of sugar and melting them in between.
4. Let cool (it will be hot!) and enjoy!