Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lemon Tart

One of the great benefits of living in Southern California is the ability to have fruit trees of all kinds growing in your back yard. Orange, apricot, pomegranate, grape, you name it. But, in particular, lemon trees. Which is why it kills me when I have to go to the store and plunk down sometimes as much as $0.69 per lemon. I grit my teeth at backyard picnics where it's not uncommon to hear someone mention they have so many lemons they force their mailman to take sacks of them.

There are, actually, two lemon trees in the small concrete courtyard of my apartment complex, but they are so closely guarded and picked clean by the aging retired population here that I've never actually been able to take one, or even to swipe one late at night while they're sleeping, an act I am not above resorting to. 

So, I am surrounded on all sides by a bounty of lemons that seem to be readily available to everyone but me. Which is why I hit the jackpot when I found myself dog-sitting for a friend of a friend. She has a rather large lemon tree smack dab in the middle of her backyard weighed down with ripe yellow lemons and like a kid, or my husband, given free reign in a candy store, I was shoving them in bags and pockets and purses. Only in retrospect did I find myself upset that I didn't think to fill my trunk.

Lemon Tart
Adapted from Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbotham

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 pinches salt
6 large eggs
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

1) Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Have ready an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
2) Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of the lemon zest and let stand for 5 minutes.
3) Whisk together the flour, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl.
4) Pour the butter mixture in a fine stream into the flour mixture, stirring with a fork; continue stirring until the dough begins to come together when a small bit is pressed between your fingers.
5) Transfer the mixture to the tart pan and press it with your fingertips evenly up the side and into the bottom. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is a light golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack while making the filling.
6) Process the remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar and the remaining 1 tbsp of zest in a food processor until the zest is finely ground 
7) Whisk together the eggs, the sugar and zest mixture, the lemon juice and another pinch of salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
8) Beat the cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a medium bowl just until it forms soft peaks. Whisk the cream into the egg mixture just until blended.
9) Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and pour the filling into the still warm crust. Transfer to the oven carefully and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the filling is just set in the center. Cool the tart on a wire rack
10) Just before serving, sift with confectioners' sugar.

After prebaking the crust, look for any cracks that the filling could seep through. Make a paste with about 1 tsp flour and 1/2 tsp water and smear it over the cracks with your fingers to seal them. 

1 comment:

  1. David says you need to ship these things to MI when you're done baking/cooking them! I say, I can't believe I have my tart pan packed away at them moment! Of all the things! :)