Saturday, March 27, 2010


"There was a blur, and then shootin'. I didn't see no draw."

Since I'm feeling sour about celebrating yet another birthday I thought I'd whip up a classic lemon tart. When life serves you lemons, bake a tart!

Classic Lemon Tart
1 recipe for Sweet Rich Shortcrust Pastry (recipe below)
1 egg, beaten, to seal the dough
sour cream or creme fraiche, to serve (optional)
6 extra large eggs
2 1/3 cups sugar
finely grated zest and strained juice of 4 juicy unwaxed lemons
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, melted

a false-bottom fluted tart pan, 9 inches diameter
  1. Bring the doug to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Roll out the dough thinly on a lightly floured work surface., and use to line the tart pan. Chill or freeze for 15 minutes, then bake blind (instructions below).
  3. Turn the oven down to 300° F. To make the lemon filling, put the eggs, sugar, lemon zest and juice, and butter into a food processor and blend until smooth.
  4. Set the baked pie curst on a baking sheet and pour in the filling. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour (it may need a little longer, depending on your oven), until just set. Remove from the oven and cool completely before serving.
  5. Serve at room temperature, maybe with a spoonful of sour cream or creme fraiche, if using.
Note: You can also decorate the tart with candied shreds of lemon zest. Peel the zest only from 3 or 4 lemons, leaving behind any white pith. Cut the zest into very fine shreds with a very sharp knife. Make a sugar syrup by boiling 6 tablespoons of sugar with 2/3 cup water. Stir in the shreds and simmer for 10 minutes until tender and almost transparent. Carefully lift out the syrup, drain, and sprinkle around edges of tart while still warm, to form a ring. Cool before serving.

Sweet Rich Shortcrust Pastry
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp confectioners sugar
9 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and diced
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp ice water
  1. Sift the flour, confectioners sugar, and the salt together in a bowl, then rub in the butter.
  2. Mix the egg yolks with the 2 tbsp ice water. Add to the flour, mixing lightly with a knife. The dough must have some water in it or it will be too difficult to handle. If it is still too dry, add a little more water, sprinkling it over the flour mixture 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Invert the mixture onto a lightly floured work surface.
  4. Knead lightly with your hands until smooth.
  5. For the dough into a ball.
  6. Flatten slightly, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

Rolling out, lining a tart pan, and baking blind

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out the dough as thinly as necessary, about 1/8 inch thick, to line the dish you are using.
  2. To line the tart pan, roll the flour-dusted dough around the rolling pin to help you pick it up – this will avoid stretching the dough, which might shrink during cooking. Lower the dough over the pan and unroll to cover. Use a small piece of extra dough wrapped in plastic wrap to help to push the dough into the edges of the pan. Once this is done you can press the dough up the sides of the pan.
  3. Use the rolling pin to roll over the top – it will cut off any excess dough very neatly (or cut off the overhang with a sharp knife.)
  4. Prick the base all over with a fork, then chill or freeze for 15 minutes to set the dough.
  5. Line with foil or parchment paper, then fill with baking beans. Set on a baking sheet and bake blind in the center of the oven for 10-12 minutes.
  6. Remove the foil or parchment paper and the baking beans, and return tart crust to oven for 5-7 minutes longer to dry out completely.
  7. To prevent the crust from becoming soggy from liquid filling, brush the blind-baked crust with beaten egg – you can do this when it is hot or cold. Bake again for 5-10 minutes until set and shiny. This will also fill and seal any holes made when pricking before the blind baking.

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