I just love lemon desserts. I had a strong debate last time I was in Tartine between the Lemon Cream Pie and the Banana Cream Pie, and I chose the latter because it’s a restaurant favorite. And once I received the Tartine cookbook for Christmas, I knew I had to make this pie. So glad I did!
Before you follow this recipe, you’ll need to make Tartine’s Sweet Tart Crust.
1/2 cup plus 2 T. lemon juice
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cool, cut into tablespoon sized slices or cubes
Heat about 1.5 inches of water to a simmer in a double boiler, or a saucepan that is the right size for a non-reactive metal bowl to fit into so that the bowl doesn’t touch the water but sits just above it. In the bowl, combine the lemon juice, whole eggs, egg yolk, sugar and salt. (Add the egg yolks last and whisk immediately – if you let the egg yolks and sugar sit, they will become grainy.) Rest the bowl on the pan and whisk until the mixture becomes thick and registers 180 degrees on a thermometer, this will take about 10 minutes. Remove the bowl from the water and let the mixture cool to about 140, stirring occasionally.
When the mixture has cooled to 140, strain it with a fine mesh sieve, and use a hand blender in a high sided bowl or bar blender to blend in the butter one chunk at a time, blending continuously, and allowing each chunk to become incorporated before adding the next. It will be pale yellow and very thick. At this point you can add a little lemon zest or up to a tablespoon or so of lemon juice if needed to brighten the flavor. Chill the cream until your tart shell is cool, or if it is, go ahead and fill it.
To assemble the tart (which you should do no more than a few hours before you plan to serve it) cut the tops off of the strawberries and dot the tart shell with them flat side down, points up, about a quarter inch apart. Pour the lemon cream over the top and chill for at least an hour.
Dollop the top of the tart with the whipped cream, spreading to the edges with an offset spatula, and dot the top with smaller whole strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.