February 15, 2004

Lemon tart  

I'm going to try to reproduce the lemon tart recipe from last night, but since the proportions were cobbled together on the fly from other recipes, I'm not sure how accurate they will be. The process was especially complicated by the fact that one of my recipe books uses weight measures rather than volume, and I don't have a scale. And since my oven seems to be very inaccurate (or at least inconsistent), you shouldn't rely too much on the cooking times...

For the crust/pate sucree:
2 cups flour
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
3 egg yolks
3/2 sticks butter
cold water

For the filling/curd:
3 whole eggs
4 additional egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup confectioners sugar
5 oz lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon zest

1. With a spatula, beat together 2 eggs, 1/4 cup icing sugar, and the 3/2 sticks of butter. They should be well mixed, but it's OK if you can see pockets of butter. Most of the recipes I've seen call for the butter to be at room temperature before you begin, but if you like your crust a little flaky, use cold butter (and put your back into it).

2. Add the 2 cups flour and mix with your fingers until you get a grainy texture (some of the dough may still be a little sticky). Add maybe a tablespoon of cold water and work the dough together into a ball as delicately as possible. If the dough is too sticky to work, add a bit of flour; if it's too dry, add a bit of water. Once the dough is in a ball, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

3. In a bowl (or a pitcher if you have one), Whisk together all the ingredients for the curd except the cream. When they are well combined, add the cream and whisk some more.

4. Once the dough has rested, roll it out on a flour-dusted surface. The most important point here is not to stretch the dough as you lay it in the pan, so make sure you roll it big enough. Press the dough into the corners of the pan before you cut away the excess. This recipe should be enough for at least a 10" tart pan.

5. Use a fork to poke holes in the bottom of the dough. Line the crust with a piece of aluminum foil and fill with rice/dried beans. Bake for about 10 minutes at 325F. Reduce the oven temp to 275F. Remove the foil and rice or beans, and bake the crust for another 10 minutes or so.

6. Just as the first hints of brown appear, or before if you like, brush the crust with the third egg yolk to seal it. After one more minute in the oven, pour the filling mixture into the crust. This is best accomplished without removing the crust from the oven rack; either way, make sure you don't spill any of the filling over the edges of the crust (or the pan).

7. Cook at 275 for 25 minutes or so. The filling will puff up slightly toward the outside of the crust, but shouldn't change colors. You can tell when it's done by gently jiggling the pan - if the filling in the center doesn't move, take it out.

8. If you like your lemon tart warm, let it cool for 20-30 minutes and serve. If you like it cold, refrigerate first.
Serves 8

Good luck! I'd be interested to know how complete the instructions for the pastry are - whether they're easy to follow, too simplistic or detailed, etc.


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