Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One Pot French: Tarte au Citron (Lemon Tart)

My family has a bunch of mini citrus trees.  I think it started when I brought home a Calamondin orange specimen from the hydroponic garden at Epcot Center.  The thing had two tiny leaves and came in a plastic container.  That orange plant is now about a foot tall and two feet wide and grows about 10 baby oranges a year.  Not that you can really eat them or do anything with them.  They're just pretty.  And a pain to take care of.  Well, pretty soon we had added a navel orange, a key lime, and a Meyer lemon.  The Meyer lemon actually has usable lemons.  Small, but usable.  And by small I mean we don't dump a bunch of chemical fertilizer on it until it births mutant lemons the size of your hand.

So of course my mother wants me to make something with our massive harvest of...six lemons.  The first, and pretty much only, thing that came to mind was a tart.  I've made this recipe before, and I like the results, so out the trusty recipe came.  It's tart (tastewise) and sweet and amazing with some fresh whipped and sweetened cream.

Tarte au Citron (Lemon Tart)
Adapted from One Pot French by Jean-Pierre Challet

½ recipe Pâte Sablée
4 large eggs
1¼ cups powdered sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
Zest of 3-4 Meyer lemons
Juice of 4 Meyer lemons

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one ball of the dough, working quickly so that it doesn’t get too soft to handle.  Gently place the dough over a tart pan, pressing it into the bottom and sides.  With your fingers, overlap the dough a little bit inside the rim.  Trim off the excess.  Gently pinch the dough up the sides of the pan to just slightly increase the height of the shell.  If the pastry is too soft to do this, chill it for a few minutes in the refrigerator.

Prick the bottom of the tart shell in several places with a fork, to prevent the dough from bubbling.  Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans or rice.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Lower the heat to 350°F; remove the weights.  Bake for another 5 minutes or until the pastry is a pale, very light brown.  Set to one side on a rack to cool slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar.  Add the melted butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice, stirring well.  Pour the batter into the still slightly warm tart shell; bake for about 30 minutes or until the filling has set.  Remove from the heat and let cool.

Makes 12 servings

Pâte Sablée

1¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
Pinch of salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, chilled, cubed
1 large egg

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugars, and salt.  Add the butter and pulse until just incorporated and the mixture has a coarse texture.

Add the egg and then 1 tablespoon cold water; pulse until the dough gathers itself into a ball.  Be careful not to overprocess.  Add a few drops of cold water if the mixture is too dry.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for 1-2 minutes, until the dough is smooth and comes away easily from the work surface.  The dough should be slightly crumbly.  Form it into 2 balls, flattening slightly.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

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