My grandmother introduced me to lemon meringue pie when I was a young boy. I remember sitting in a little café, “Knights” restaurant, and each of us taking a big piece from the display spinner. I remember the smell of the smoky old air and leather booths. I used my fork to flick off the meringue and only eating the lemon filling and crust. So I found two amazing recipes I’ve doctored over the last few months to make an awesome lemon tart. Depending how long you bake the crust you can use it for all different tarts. This is my go to crust. The curd is sweet and sour and a must have for my grandmother and I.
Yields: one 9 inch tart. Good for 8 or just two with a spoon!
For the pastry crust:
- 1¼ cups (180 g/6.3 oz) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (55 g/2 oz) powdered sugar (or ¼ cup granulated sugar)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick/115 g) cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
- Process flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor for a few seconds until combined. If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this by using a pastry cutter. Add butter and pulse until mixture becomes crumbly and resembles coarse meal, about 15 pulses. Add egg and vanilla extract and keep pulsing until the dough is no longer dry and starts to clump together, about 10-15 seconds. Do not process to the point that a large ball of dough is formed; the dough should be quite crumbly with large clumps. Another way to check if it’s done is to take a piece of dough and press it between your thumbs – the dough should stick without feeling dry or crumbly.
- Turn dough to a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. It should come together easily without being sticky. Flatten ball slightly with your hands to form a thick disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- If you don’t want to use the dough right away, you can refrigerate it for up to 3 days, or freeze it for up to a month and then thaw overnight in the fridge. (I thawed the dough once and it made it too soft and the butter melted. you want it cold)
- To roll out the dough:Take dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly for easy rolling. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into an 11-inch circle, then place gently into a 9-inch tart pan (preferably with a removable bottom); you can do this by flouring a rolling pan and rolling the dough loosely around it, then unrolling it into the pan. With a sharp knife, trim the edges of the pastry to fit the tart pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes. Frozen dough is less prone to shrinking while baking. ( I purposely made the crimped edges thick and it makes it easier to have the professional look)
- To bake the crust: Preheat oven to 375F and place rack in the center.
- Press parchment paper or aluminum foil tightly against the crust, covering the edges to prevent them from burning. Fill with pie weights/dried beans/uncooked rice, making sure they’re fully distributed over the entire surface. (rice works awesome)
- Bake crust for 20 minutes, until foil no longer sticks to the dough. Transfer crust to a wire rack and remove weights and foil.
For the lemon curd:
- 2 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons for both zest and juice)
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream, optional (I omitted bc the consistency was more tart and more firm without)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- To make the lemon curd: In a medium heatproof bowl, place eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, (and heavy cream) and whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook on moderate heat, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes thick (mine was ready in 10 minutes, but it can take up to 20). It should coat the back of a wooden spoon and leave a clear pass if you run your finger through it. The curd will thicken more once cooled. (I like having a handle so I used a large sauce pan and boiled water in it and used a small sauce pan resting on top to heat the curd.
- Remove from heat and immediately strain mixture through a sieve. Add butter, a few cubes at a time, and whisk until completely melted and incorporated, and mixture is smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature before filling the tart. (Lemon curd can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or can be frozen for up to 2 months. To thaw, place overnight in the fridge. Whisk the mixture to smoothen it before using.) (I have used this curd recipe for filling hand pies and even puff pastry)
- Fill the tart shell with lemon curd, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours until chilled. Serve with berries if you like. The tart is rich, so cut your servings small. (or use a spoon)
(Main recipe credit to prettysimplesweet.com)