The perfect white shirt. The world’s best snap-front sweatshirt. The black stovepipe pants that still look chic decades later. These are just a few of the items that the iconic French fashion brand agnès b. easily conjures. Well now, you can add the ultimate lemon tart to that list. In honor of the Fall 2016 runway shows, the Paris designer—and mother of five and grandmother to 17!—has opened her family recipe box to share the secrets to the divine confection that her own mother used to make for her. It’s on the menu through the end of February at Tribeca’s charming Maman bakery and restaurant (a.k.a Francophile heaven), where recipes concocted by the owners’ beloved mothers and grandmothers are the bedrock of the place (and where the wait staff also happens to wear agnès b. T-shirts designed especially for them).
“My mother was great at making what we called the ‘Bonne Douce,’ a nickname taken from a Romain Gary book,” explains the designer. “She would cover the crust with beans so that it wouldn’t curl and put in the oven until golden and crunchy. She then added the filling, a mixture of egg yolks, sugar, lemon, and flour. She cooked it 15 minutes and added the beaten egg whites on top. She also added zest to give it acidity and enhance the taste of the lemon. It's a recipe that all the women in my family—my sisters, my daughters, my nieces—pass on.”
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Join the fashion flock and stop by for a café creme and one of the mini tarts—fellow Parisian and shoe designer Roger Vivier will be hosting a presentation there next month, so it does have a sort of Paris-in-New-York vibe to it these days. If you simply cannot make it downtown, the designer has offered up the prized family recipe, below, so that you can can make it at home for your loved ones.
Tarte au citron (Lemon Tart)
For the dough
1 1/2 cup flour
1 pinch of salt
1 1/2 sticks of very cold butter
1/2 cup lukewarm water
For the filling
3 tbsp melted butter
3 tsp flour
1 1/4 cup of sugar
Zest from one lemon
Juice from two lemons
2 eggs (plus one egg white)
1 tbsp powdered sugar
For the dough
1. Mix the flour, salt, butter and knead swiftly by hand, add water, and roll into a ball.
2. Refrigerate for an hour.
3. Roll chilled dough until thin; place in a pie pan.
4. Once in the pan, prick holes in the dough with a fork and cover with dried beans to keep from rising.
5. Put in the oven for 20-25 minutes at around 400ºF.
To make the tart
1. In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients well, pour over baked pastry, return to the oven for about 10-15 minutes.
2. For an extra glossy surface, whisk one egg white with powdered sugar and drizzle over the top of the finished tart.