I've made this version of lemon tart for over ten years. I've made it into a large 10 inch tart. I've made it into small bite size tarts. I've made it into a 4 inch individual tart. I've topped it with blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries or combinations.
The base of the tart is basically a sugar cookie crust. Again, I've tried it with different crusts and I always come back to the sugar cookie crust or as the French would call it pate sucree. The sweet and sandy texture counters nicely the smooth tart curd.
Now the pastry arts are my passion but I am not a fan of making tart/pie dough. I find my desire and obsession to perfect it even before baking causes a lot of stress and mental anxiety. I've really had some melt downs making the crust. I admit it. :-) Don't even get me started about blind baking. Well, this year, I've found the perfect, easiest recipe and technique for making this sugar crust dough. It comes from Alice Medrich's Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts cookbook. Thank you Alice! Here it is.
5 oz or 10 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 1/4 cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Combine butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl.
Mix the flour and baking powder together thoroughly, add the butter mixture , and mix just until well blended.
If the dough seems too soft and gooey, let it stand for a few minutes to firm up.
Using a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom or four 4 inch smaller tart pans, press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the tart pans to make a thin, even layer.
Put the pan on a baking sheet.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is fully golden brown all over. The dough will puff up.
Take it out of the oven and using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, press down on the dough firmly to remove the puffins and shape the tart back to it's original form. Let it cool completely. It will be much easier to handle cooled.
It always amazes me that this luscious curd is basically, lemons, butter, egg, and sugar.
This is Ina Garten's ratio of the ingredients, but I've tweaked and simplified the recipe. You don't need fancy equipment, and you only need one pot. I find that when you use a food processor, unless you have a very fine mesh, the lemon peel falls through and adds a undesired texture to the curd.
It's also easy to remember this recipe because there are a lot of four or 4s.
4 organic lemons
1.5 cup of sugar
4 oz or 1 stick of butter soften and cut into dice pieces
4 organic eggs
1/4 tsp of salt
Using a vegetable peeler, peel all the lemon zest into strips. Cut the strips into quarter inch pieces.
Cut the lemons in half and squeeze all the juice to make about 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Strain out all the seeds and pulp. Set aside.
In a 2 quart sauce plan, place the sugar and the lemon zest. Using a wood spoon, pound the lemon zest into the sugar, stir and keep blending the lemon zest into the sugar. You are trying to release the lemon oils and flavor into the sugar. The sugar will be a bit dingy yellow and lemony fragrant.
Add the butter pieces into the sugar mixture and cream until fully combined.
Add one egg at a time until fully incorporated, repeat the next egg until all 4 are fully mixed in.
Stir in the lemon juice.
Put the sauce plan over medium heat for about 10 min and cook the mixture until thick or until it reaches 175 degrees. Stir continuously so that the egg does cook to the side or bottom of the pan.
Immediately poor over a strainer and set side until cooled.
Spoon the lemon curd into the tart crust until it's slightly less than the tart's rim.
Top it with your favorite berries. Serve immediately or place covered in the refrigerator.
This tart is for lemon lovers! Definitely!