Red Fox Baking & Catering's Lemon Tart: A Delicate Pastry Baked In a Wood-Fired Oven

Welcome to Sugar High, a series devoted solely to spotlighting the best ways to sate a sweet tooth in St. Louis. We'll sample the best the city has to offer at restaurants, bakeries and holes-in-the-wall, and provide some insight on how these confections are made along the way.

Red Fox Baking's lemon tart. | Photos by Mabel Suen
Red Fox Baking's lemon tart. | Photos by Mabel Suen

Red Fox Baking & Catering got its start working out of the kitchen at Black Bear Bakery, handcrafting hearty breads and flaky pastries to sell at local farmers' markets. After partnering with south-city grocery-cafe concept Grove East Provisions (3101 Arsenal Street) in the spring of 2013, the homegrown bakery carved out its own little corner in south city, building a brick wood-fired oven from scratch that would take the company's baked goods to the next level. Its beautiful lemon tart is no exception.

"Our baked goods tend to be fairly simple, sometimes rustic -- though maybe everything baked in a wood-fired oven qualifies as rustic," says co-proprietor Jenny Wilson, who started Red Fox with fellow self-taught bakers Jake Marks and Chris Scheets. "Doing the basics well and using high-quality ingredients is enough to make a distinctive pastry -- there is so much mediocre pastry in this world!"

Red Fox Baking's Jenny Wilson and Jake Marks by their wood-fired brick oven.
Red Fox Baking's Jenny Wilson and Jake Marks by their wood-fired brick oven.

Red Fox makes everything by hand, utilizing whatever fruit is in season with herbs and edible flowers from an on-site garden. It specializes in long-fermented breads leavened with wild sourdough cultures as well as minimally sweeteened tarts, galettes, croissants and cookies.

The crew usually fires the outdoor oven in the late afternoon or evening, putting on an insulated door to retain as much heat as possible. In the morning the coals get raked out, allowing heat to disperse evenly over the hearth. Breads go in first, baked at high temperatures, followed by pastry as the oven gradually cools.

Savory beet pastry.
Savory beet pastry.

Red Fox's lemon tart begins with a pâte brisée base -- a European butter-based pastry dough worked carefully with cold ingredients to minimize gluten development and maximize flakiness in the final product. This is filled with a basic lemon curd made up of eggs, butter and fresh lemon, sometimes topped with a seasonal fruit. During our visit, the curd was flavored with an elderflower cordial, lending a unique touch to the taste of the delicately balanced pastry.

The lemon tart is made intermittently throughout the year, sometimes with the addition of lavender flowers or blueberries. Look for rotating pastry varieties throughout the season including rhubarb-mulberry galettes, salted-chocolate rye cookies, lemon-sage shortbread, and a crème-fraiche tart with raspberries and blueberries.

Red Fox Baking's goods are available at Grove East Provisions in addition to weekly Maplewood, Tower Grove and Midtown farmers' markets. For more info, check out the Red Fox Baking website or follow it via Facebook.

Previously on Sugar High: - Sugarfire Smokehouse's Crack Pie - Russell on Macklind's Coconut Cake - The Kitchen Sink's Sweet Potato Fries - Giovanni's Kitchen's Panna Cotta Trio - Crepes Etc.'s Crepe Cake - Cafe Ventana's Beignets - Frida's Raspberry-Chocolate Avocado Mousse - India Palace's Gulab Jamun - Melt's "Violet Beauregarde" Waffle - Brevan's Patisserie's "Brendan" - Winslow's Home's Chocolate Cake with Espresso Meringue - La Patisserie Chouquette's Eclair - Black Bear Bakery's Raspberry Oat Bar - Gelateria's London Fog Gelato - 4 Seasons Bakery's German Cheesecake - Libertine's "Candy Bar" - Cleveland-Heath's Old Fashioned Cherry Pie - Schlafly Tap Room and Bottleworks' Sticky Toffee Pudding

We're always looking for some sweet ideas. E-mail the author at [email protected].

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