Lemon Lover’s Tart
Every Easter, we have the same menu. Roast leg of lamb with lemon and rosemary, gratin dauphinoise, blanched asparagus, and a sideboard filled with desserts, some for the adults, others for the kids. (I’ve never mastered the coconut-covered Easter bunny cake, but there are cupcakes with icing nests and jelly beans).
My favorite yearly staple is a Meyer lemon tart I’ve been cooking for years from Patricia Wells’ divine cookbook, At Home in Provence, where she shares recipes inspired by her country farmhouse in Southern France.
This is not the easiest recipe, but the effort is repaid in full. I hope you’ll enjoy its custardy, lemony deliciousness as much as we do.
For the pastry shell:
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted and fully cooled
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp almond extract
- Grated zest of one lemon (I love to use Meyer lemons if you can find them), blanched and refreshed
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon of unbleached all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter the bottom and sides of a tart pan with a spring bottom. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the butter, vanilla, and almond extracts, grated zest, sugar, and salt, and stir with a spoon to blend. Gradually incorporate enough flour to form a smooth, soft dough.
- Place the dough in the middle of the buttered pan, and with fingers, press the dough evenly on the bottom and sides. The dough will be thinner than a regular pie crust. Do not prick the shell.
- Place in the center of a hot oven and bake until firm and lightly browned, 10-15 minutes.
- Set aside to cool before filling and leave in pan.
For the filling:
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 3 large egg yolks at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces at room temperature.
- grated zest of 2 lemons, blanched and refreshed.
- 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (Meyer lemons if you have them) strained.
- In the top of a double boiler set over, but not touching, simmering water (not boiling) combine eggs, yolks, and sugar. Whisk frequently until the curd is thick and pale lemon colored, 8-10 minutes.
- Add the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, allowing each spoonful to melt before adding the next. Add zest and lemon juice, whisking frequently over simmering water until thick and custard-like and the first bubbles appear on the surface, about 5 minutes. The mixture should not boil. If soupy continue to cook and whisk until custard-like.
- Poor the custard into the pre-baked and cooled pastry shell. Smooth with a spatula and set aside for 30 minutes for the custard to set for about 30 minutes.
- After this, I like refrigerating for an hour and removing it 30 minutes before serving.