Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Perfect Lemon Tart

"This is what I dream about when I think of lemon. It has just the right balance of textures, with a silky smooth and very tart lemon filling enclosed in a delicate cookie crust. A light dusting of confectioner's sugar is all the decoration it needs. Serve this to your lemon loving friends and watch their eyes light up."
-Carole Bloom

Perfect Lemon Tart
from The Essential Baker
Pictures by Caroline

Pastry Dough

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1 extra large egg yolk, at room temperature
2-3 tablespoons water*

  1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor.**
  2. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Pulse until the butter is cut into very tiny pieces, about 30 seconds.
  3. With the food processor running, pour the egg yolk into the dough. Process the dough until the mixture wraps itself aroudn the blade, about 1 minute.
  4. Turn the pastry dough onto a large pieces of plastic wrap. Shape into a flat disk and wrap tightly ina double layer of plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until firm before using, at least 2 hours. (Let stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling to become more pliable).
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  6. Roll out the dough in a large circle until about 11 inches in diameter.
  7. Gently lift up the pastry and place over a tart pan. Pat the dough lightly into the bottom and sides of the pan.
  8. Trim off the excess pastry dough at the top of the pan. Transfer the pan to a baking sheet and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  9. Line the pastry dough with foil. Fill the pan with pie weights, uncooked rice, or beans to prevent the pastry shell from puffing up.
  10. Bake the pastry for 10 to 12 minutes, until light golden and set.
*Technically, this pastry dough doesn't have any water in it. But when I attempted to make it without any water, it was completely and utterly unblendable. The addition of a few tablespoons of water allowed the ingredients to mix together.
**Since I don't have a food processor, I used my Bosch mixer. It didn't blend the butter into quite as small pieces as desired, but it worked pretty well.

4 large lemons
4 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 extra large egg, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

  1. Zest the lemons, taking care not to grate the inner white pith of the lemon, which is very bitter.
  2. Squeeze juice and strain to remove any seeds. You should have 2/3 cup lemon juice.
  3. Place the egg yolks, egg, and sugar in the top pan of a double broiler over simmering water. Stir together to dissolve the sugar, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the lemon zest, juice, and butter. Stir the mixture constantly until it thickens, about 12 minutes. (You'll know it's done if you can draw a line across the middle of a spoonful of filling and the mixture does not run over).
  5. Strain the filling mixture into a medium bowl.
  6. Add the cream and stir.
  7. Pour the filling into the tart shell. Bake 12-14 minutes, until the filling is set, but jiggles slightly when the pan is shaken. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature.*
*You may want to dust the the top of the tart with powdered sugar, berries, or a berry syrup.

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