There is something very satisfying about baking. Success requires a combination of skill, luck, timing and attention to detail. You never quite know for sure if the time and effort you put in will pay off until the finished recipe has come together. When it does, it feels great, and makes even the most gargantuan recipe worth the effort.
This simple and delicious lemon tart recipe comes from the July 2006 edition of Fine Cooking. The pie crust is a sweet, shortbread-type dough which is remarkably easy to make. The lemon curd is also quite simple, and very tasty. Top the tarts with fresh raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, and you have summer on a plate.
Lemon Berry Tarts
Have ready eight 4-3/4-inch fluted tart pans with removable bottoms. Roll out the dough and place an equal amount into each tart pan. Work quickly. Chill the shells for 15 minutes while the oven is heating to 400°F. Use pie weights (beans or rice will work) and bake the shells for 25 minutes or so or until the shells pull away from the molds and they smell ready. Cool on a baking rack.
Whip the cream in a medium bowl to soft peaks, then fold into the lemon curd. Top each tart shell with the lemon curd mixture until each tart is not quite full. Top with berries and serve.
Buttery Shortbread Pastry Dough
Yields enough dough for 1 single pie crust, 8 mini tarts, or 12 turnovers.
9 oz. (2 cups) bleached all-purpose flour
7 oz. (14 Tbsp.) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. chilled heavy cream
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. table salt
Combine the flour, butter, egg, sugar, cream, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the dough starts to clump together. Gather it into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for half an hour before rolling out.
Yields about 1-3/4 cups.
3 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and set aside. In a 1 – 2 quart sauce pan, combine the sugar, lemon juice, butter, and lemon. Heat carefully on medium-low heat until the butter has melted. Be careful not to allow this to come to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk the lemon mixture into the beaten eggs. Pour this all back into the saucepan, and cook slowly over medium-low heat (for about 5 minutes) whisking constantly until it reaches 160°F and thickens. Again, do not allow the mixture to boil. Let it cool a little before transferring to a heat-proof dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cool.