I think my body has appreciated the 8 month sugar detox I’ve gone through since pastry school ended. That’s not to say I’ve avoided sweets completely- come on, you’re talking to a chocolate addict here- but with the constant taste testing and snacking on cake scraps no longer available to me I don’t have afternoon crashes like I did last year. I do miss the fresh baked bread and croissants though. Irreplaceable I tell ya!
I’ve only made cakes since I graduate and I wanted to step it up a notch just a little and make something I’ve never made from start to finish from scratch at home. A pastry I had never tried before school, and probably my favorite tart, 2nd to chocolate tarts of course, is the lemon tart. So simple and impressive all in one. If there is one thing pastry really taught me was that a little patience will go a long way. I always struggled with accepting the fact that cakes need to cool before icing, and doughs need to rest before shaping and baking. It’s 100% true- I know, it’s not rocket science- but the intermediate steps of resting and chilling of the sweet dough for this tart make all the difference.
I just felt that I needed to be true for a moment.
Because I was so eager to make this tart without a tart pan, and I refused to go and spend more money on baking supplies, I resorted to my spring form cheesecake pan that worked just as well. It did require a little more work with making sure the tart was lined and even but it was nothing a little micro planing of the edges couldn’t fix.
This recipe is from my pastry school binder of recipes, however I did change up the quantities a little for the lemon tart. I made a large recipe of dough so I could freeze extra for later, but I didn’t want to make more lemon curd than I needed. The recipe I’m sharing for the lemon curd is enough for a 8 inch tart in diameter, and about 3/4 of an inch in depth. Of the large batch of dough, I weighed out about 250g to roll out and use in the crust. This made it easy to maneuver and shape. You can top this with Italian meringue which I did decorate mine with every so slightly, but the downfall to Italian meringue is that you can’t just make a little. The simplest recipe uses about 150g of eggs and about 300g of sugar which yields a LOT of meringue. I’ve also included the recipe for Italian meringue that we learned in school below.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until soft. Slowly add icing sugar and salt until incorporated.
Whisk eggs and vanilla and slowly incorporate it with the butter mixture.
Sift flour and cornstarch and add in 3 parts to the butter and egg mixture. The consistency should eventually become like soft play dough.
Weigh out 250 g for the 8 inch tart, and flatten into about a 1/2 inch disk. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Wrap the remaining dough with saran wrap and freeze. It's best to also flatten to about a 1/2 inch thickness so that when it comes time use it, the time for it to come to a pliable stage won't be very long.
Roll out the dough to about less than 1/2 cm thickness. Keep the area lightly dusted with flour if need be. Line the tart pan or spring form pan and give the tart about a 1/2 inch to 1 inch depth.
Chill the tart in the freezer until cold and firm. In the mean time preheat the oven to 300F/ 150C.
Blind bake the tart for about 25 minutes. Remove the pie weights or whatever you used as a weight and continue baking until lightly golden.
Cool completely before filling.
Bring a small pot of water to a simmer.
In a bowl that fits well on the pot to create a double boiler, mix eggs, sugar, and lemon juice, and zest.
Place bowl on double boiler ensuring there is enough water in the pot but not so much that the bottom of the bowl touches the water.
Keep whisking the mixture every minute until you notice it starting to thicken. Once it starts to thicken, keep whisking until the mixture reaches a thick consistency.
Cool the lemon curd to 32C and whisk in the butter until it is smooth and pour lemon curd into the baked tart.
Chill for 4 hours to over night before decorating with meringue or however you would like.
In a mixer bowl add, the eggs and attach the whisk attachment.
In a small CLEAN pot, add sugar and water ensuring the sides of the pot stay clean. A dirty pot could result in sugar crystal formatting rendering a grainy or poorly whipped meringue.
Bring sugar solution to 115C.
Once sugar reaches 115C begin whipping eggs to a frothy, foamy consistency. This is about medium speed.
When the sugar reaches 121C, remove from the stove and increase speed to full speed and slowly pour sugar along the side of the bowl into the eggs.
The volume should build and the meringue will begin to take form in a glossy smooth consistency.
Keep whipping the meringue until the bowl has cooled enough to touch.
Meringue should be used immediately so make the meringue as last component and right before decorating.