Lemon Curd Tart pairs a crisp yet sweet pastry crust with a creamy smooth
lemon curd filling. Lemon Curd is actually a preserve and while you can buy it, I encourage you to make your own as it is easy to make and the flavor is far superior.
Lemons, both the zest and juice, are the main
ingredients in Lemon Curd, along with sugar, eggs, and butter. It is
made by gently heating the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until thick and
custard-like and then adding unsalted butter and lemon zest to smooth out
the curd's flavor and consistency. What's great about Lemon Curd is that it
can be made ahead of time, as it will keep, covered, in the refrigerator
for about a week or, if you are good at canning, it can be sealed into jars.
The tangy flavor and creamy
smooth texture of Lemon Curd is offset perfectly by the sweet flavor and
crisp yet crumbly texture of the pastry crust. The crust does have to
be prebaked and as always, make sure you prick the bottom of
the crust before baking to prevent it from puffing up. The pastry is baked until it is completely dry and has turned light brown
in color. After the pastry crust has cooled it is then ready to be filled
with the Lemon Curd. Now, sometimes you may like to add a subtle almond flavor to this tart. This can be done by spreading a thin layer of finely ground
almonds (about 1/2 cup (50 grams) over the baked and
cooled crust before adding the lemon curd. And whether you enjoy it plain,
or with whipped cream and fresh berries, it is a perfect dessert. For the
picture I used a Wilton 1M piping tip to form the rosettes of cream.
A few points on making the
Lemon Curd. This recipe
cooks the curd over a saucepan of simmering water to help prevent the eggs
from curdling. Problems can arise (i.e. curd not thickening) if the
temperature of the 'simmering' water is too low. Unfortunately, on
the stove we do not use exact temperatures like we do with ovens. So for clarification, "simmer" is defined as the point just short of a
boil, that is, when bubbles begin to appear. If you may find that
your curd is not thickening, go ahead and increase the temperature of the
water in your saucepan.
Cook, whisking or
constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes pale in
color and quite thick (like a hollandaise sauce or sour cream) (160 degrees F or
71 degrees C on a thermometer). This will take about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and
immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the
butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest, cover
with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and let cool to room temperature before filling the
pastry crust. Can be made and stored
in the refrigerator for about a week.
Sweet Pastry Crust:
In a separate bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. Place the butter in the bowl
of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, and beat until softened. Add sugar
and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just
until incorporated. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix just until it
forms a ball. Flatten the pastry into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and
refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or just until firm (can place in freezer for about
Lightly butter and flour, or spray with a non-stick vegetable/flour cooking
spray, an 8 - 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Once
the pastry has chilled sufficiently, evenly pat onto the bottom and up the sides of the
tart pan. Cover with
plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F
(205 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Lightly prick bottom of pastry
crust with the tines of a fork (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as
it bakes). Place tart pan on a larger baking pan and bake crust for 5 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and continue to bake
the crust for about 15 minutes or until crust is
dry and lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
pastry shell has cooled, evenly fill with the lemon curd. The tart can be
served immediately or covered and placed in the refrigerator until serving time. Serve plain or with softly whipped cream
and fresh berries.
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