A slice of sunshine!
Bonjour! Simple, refreshing, elegant.... Meyer lemon tart. This was one of my best sellers at my french tart stand at the farmer's market where I sold my tarts for five years. With the hot summer looming ahead, this tart is the perfect light end to any meal or picnic.
Meyer lemons are actually a cross between a true lemon and a mandarine orange and are native to China. They are slightly sweet and less tart than a regular lemon and have a thin edible rind. Meyer lemons yield more juice than a regular lemon and are too fragile to distribute commercially so look for them in speciality stores or in local markets if you happen to live in parts of Florida, California, or Texas.
Fortunately for me, I happen to live in an area (Florida) where Meyer lemon trees are a backyard favorite. In fact, my friend Mary has many Meyer lemon trees shaped into a hedge. Whenever I need my Meyer lemon fix... I know where to go. She can set me up. They are so prolific that I can fill an entire large grocery bag full of fragrant lemons and she would never know that I was there. (don't worry...I always get permission and pay her in tarts)
You may use true lemons for this recipe with no problem. The tart will be slightly more tart (a tart tart.) Some people prefer it this way. I always use true lemons for the garnish because the Meyer lemon tends to be larger and not as perfectly shaped or colored.
10 " Meyer Lemon Tart
2/3 cup Meyer lemon juice (may use regular lemon juice)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cream
1 pâte sucrée prebaked (basic sweet pastry dough) recipe below
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Crack the 5 eggs into a large bowl and beat well. Add the lemon juice, sugar and the cream and mix until smooth. Pour the mixture into a pre-baked 10" tart shell.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the custard is slightly firm with a bit of a jiggle in the center. Pay close attention at this point because even 30 seconds can make the difference between a perfect tart and one that is cracked. It will continue to firm up when it is out of the oven. If you over cook at this point the tart will crack when it cools. But don't worry, you can always decorate the top with berries!
Let cool on a wire rack. Decorate the top by thinly slicing a lemon (with a mandolin if you have one) and cutting the slices in half. Line the edge of the tart with the halves, wide side against the crust, and place a whole slice in the center. Use a lemon without many seeds for this.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill before serving.
Pâte Sucrée - basic sweet pastry dough
I use this basic dough recipe for most of my dessert tarts. This dough freezes well so I like to make this dough in a double batch when at home (for the tart business I would make in large batches) and freeze the other one for later use if I'm not using it right away. I figure if you're going to the effort to make pastry dough then you might as well make two... so this recipe is a double. Remember, the key to a successful and flakey crust is to work quickly and keep the dough cold. You want the butter to remain in little pea sized balls throughout the dough for a flakey crust. So our mantra is....cold dough, hot oven!
300 grams flour (2 cups) I like to weigh my flour for more accuracy
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar
14 tablespoons unsalted butter - chopped
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons ice water
In a food processor add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse until combined. Add the chopped butter and pulse until the butter is in small pea sized balls. Add the water and pulse until the dough just comes together.
Put the dough out to a floured surface and make into a large mound and cut in half with a pastry scraper. I like to weigh the halves so that they are equal. Put each half onto a square of wax paper and form into a disk. Wrap with the paper and chill for at least one hour.
If you are freezing at this time, then wrap again in foil and freeze. Let dough defrost in the refrigerator before use.
Roll out dough on a floured surface into a 13" circle. Place dough into a 10" tart pan and fold the overhang inward and press gently into the sides. Do not force or stretch the dough because a thin spot may cause the filling to leak. The dough edges should be a little bit higher than the side of the tart pan to help prevent shrinkage. Prick the bottom of the shell with your fork. Press a piece of foil (12"x13") into the edges of the shell and cover with the foil completely touching and covering the entire shell. Chill for at least a half an hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Completely fill the foil covered shell with pie weights or dried beans. Put the shell into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven and remove beans and foil. Brush the inside of the shell with a beaten egg white to prevent leakage from small cracks. Return to the oven for about 10 minutes and bake until golden brown. Let cool on wire rack.
The shell is ready to fill!