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In which I attempt a tarte au citron while sporting the bold hair of a champion.

As evidenced by my morning hair this morning, I've had a lot of wins this week.

One of those wins did not include my first-ever attempt at a tarte au citron--them's a fancy way of saying "lemon tart." It was Mary Berry's recipe! I've strayed temporarily from my original goal of baking my way through Paul Hollywood's How to Bake, but it's all Great British Bake Off-related, yes? As Barbara Mandrell sang back in the halcyon Harvest Gold days of 1978, if the Great British Bake Off is wrong, I don't want to be right.

You will find Mary Berry's recipe here:

But why would I want to make a lemon tart, you ask, if I do not enjoy lemon flavors in food? Because my husband and friend both love lemon, and I'm an extraordinarily generous person.

THEORETICALLY, a tarte au citron is fairly simple--this one is, anyway. It has a short (i.e., lots of butter) crust that is simple to make and a lemon custard that cooks in the oven (as opposed to on the stove). Standing in front of the stove, stirring custard for what feels like three or four thousand years while waiting for it to boil BUT NOT BOIL TOO MUCH is about as fun as sitting in the waiting at the dentist, pre-root canal. IT'S NOT FUN. You stand there like a moron, moving a spoon back and forth in a saucepan, letting a range burner control your life, and you do this voluntarily. Like a moron.

But the tarte au citron does not require this horrifying ritual, so score one for the tarte. Really, all of the hassle with this bake is the crust. Pastry crust and I have a rocky history. Sometimes, I put together a perfect crust. It's easy to work with, not tough, not too tender, doesn't crack or break. Most of the time, I put together a crust that is way too tender. Tender crust tastes great but is really impossible to work with. Impossible. It's the Shia LaBeouf of the baking world.

Did I avoid the tender crust problem this time around? I'm not going to tell you right now because I want you to feel the suspense.

So, putting the crust together is a simple matter if you have a food processor. (It's simple before one has to clean the food processor, that is. The only way cleaning a food processor could be more tedious is if a dog pooped in it first. Or Shia LeBeouf pooped in it . . . and then talked to me the whole time I was cleaning it. I don't want to talk to Shia LeBeouf.)

Ingredients in food processor, pulse food processor, add egg, done.

I don't know why I took a picture of this egg.

Can you see what I could already tell at this stage? It was WAY too tender. I should have chilled it for an hour because the heat index was well over 100 on this day, but the directions didn't say to chill it. (Pastry instructions always say to chill it when it's required.) Even with chilling, it would have been too tender since the butter warms so quickly on such a hot day. It wasn't 100 degrees in the house, of course, but the air conditioning can't quite keep up on days that hot. (There was a lot of sweat and cursing involved in this process, just like if Shia Labeouf were making it.)

And so we come to the rolling-out process. It started out well enough.

And then I tried to roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer it to the tin and unroll it over the tin. The bakers on Bake Off do it all of the time! What's to stop me from doing it?! Nothing!

Okay, then.

And with this unfortunate development, the patching began. Because it's such a short pastry, it patches easily because it's soft. So, it wasn't pretty, but it was thoroughly patched.

Then, the recipe DID call for chilling, so I wrapped it Saran Wrap and chilled it for a half hour.


So, the key to trimming a tart pastry is to blind bake it for the first shift NOT trimmed, take it out of the oven, and trim it with a sharp knife before putting it back in to finish the blind bake. And that's what I did with great success!

I'm not quite sure why I took this picture, although I suppose it is a very fine picture of aluminum foil

I really need to get more steel ball bearings so I can stop using rice as baking beans. It smells weird in the oven, like clean feet.

Look at that trimming action!

It's like I was born to trim pastry.

I achieved trimming perfection! (I know it's not perfect because the pastry was too tender, but, compared to what I was expecting, it was perfection.)

And then I lifted up the pan to put it back in the oven for the remainder of the blind bake . . .

and broke it.

The devastation! The wailing! The frustration! Such a stupid mistake. I'm not used to loose-bottomed pans, and, when I lifted it up to put it back in the oven, my fingers pushed up on the loose bottom. Obviously, because the pastry was as tender as Shia LaBeouf's emotional maturity, it broke immediately. It was a disaster that not even ill-conceived aliens could have saved. I know that aliens can save almost any situation, as evidenced by their successful inclusion in certain Shia LaBeouf movies, but even aliens have their limitations.

I decided that I might as well finish the blind bake and make the filling because we could leave the tart in the pan instead of serving it prettily on a platter.

And then I WAY over-baked it.

It would have continued to brown once filled and put back in the oven. So, in the spirit of champions everywhere, I gave up.

And that is the end of my very sad tarte au citron story, my friends. Oh, I live to tart it up again another day, but that day is not today. Today, I console myself with peppermint candies and some real housewives, like the educated and refined woman I am. #tartlessandfancyfree

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