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caught up and leaping ahead

Recipe: lemon tart

Some bloggers actually post what they make that very day. I stopped doing that a long time ago because if I posted recipes I made in the same day then you would see two or three posts all crammed together and then a few weeks of nada. Did you think all of this was spontaneous rambling (okay, that part is mostly spontaneous), cooking, shooting, and posting? I’m not that inspired or patient. There is a lot of planning and organization that goes into this food blog otherwise I’d have thrown my computer across the room by now… several times. I feel better when I have a stash of a couple dozen recipes ready to go instead of one recipe that languished about because I didn’t really like it or the photographs were half-assed. I spent the week catching up on archives and so much other work. It was rather productive thanks to a lack of good snow, because I would have been tempted to rip it up on the slopes, fo’ shiz. I’ve even begun crazy cleaning around the house which I suppose might be Spring Cleaning two months early?

and that’s about all we got

actually, it’s pretty spankin’ cool to see up close!

There are times when I have to be in a mood to cook and shoot. Shooting a recipe for me doubles or even triples the amount of time it would take me to make it otherwise. That is just insanity. I think pastries are probably the most profanity-inducing recipes to shoot because you use your hands, they get really messy, and there’s this camera… I wash my hands so much while I’m shooting process steps that the backs feel like sandpaper. So you can imagine how wonderful it is after all of that trouble when you take a bite of the final product and it is fan-freaking-tastic.

meyer lemons

yes, butter in the pastry dough

I’m a fruity person more than a chocolaty person which means I will choose fruit over chocolate most of the time. Fruit makes me feel refreshed and happy. Chocolate makes me feel tired and heavy. But most people I know would pick chocolate over fruit. Maybe they’d change their mind if they tried this lemon tart?

cutting the butter into the flour

ready to chill

I really know very little about pie doughs, pastry crusts, and all of those sugary, fatty, wonderful things that hold beautiful pastries together. I follow the recipe and then make a note if I like it or not. While I made this pastry dough, I figured it might be similar to a pie crust.

roll out the dough

line the tart pan with the dough (leave more overhang than this)

Because I am such a fan of lemons and because I love a good lemon tart, I doubled this recipe against my better judgment. That means if the recipe was a FAIL, it was going to be a MAJOR FAIL times two. It’s not that I had faith in the recipe or my skills so much as I wanted to make a big tart and little tartelettes.

line the crust with foil and weigh down with dried beans

grate lemon zest

The dough shrinks during baking, more than I thought it would – so I do advise you to follow the instructions in the recipe rather than the instructions in my head and leave some overhang. The tart came out beautifully, but I would not have minded just a tad more volume of the filling had the sides been a little higher.

start the lemon curd

stir in the butter

Since the curd recipe was also doubled, I wasn’t sure how it would behave. I whisked and stirred and scraped for 8 minutes and it was as drippy as water. I whisked and stirred and scraped for 16 minutes and it was still as drippy as water. Then around 18 minutes the magical thing happened and the curd became thick and smooth like lemon velvet.

stir in that fragrant lemon zest

pour into the tart shell

The curd was thick enough that it had a sufficient surface tension so I could slightly overfill my shallow tart shell without the curd spilling over everywhere. During the baking process, I observed the tarts carefully to see if the curd would bubble over in a disastrous mess. They did not. In fact, the tart filling was incredibly well behaved.

finishing touches

lemon tartelettes

When the tarts had cooled, I brushed strained apricot preserves over the tops. You can’t really taste the flavor of the preserves and Jeremy can attest to that since he and apricots have a somewhat icy relationship. When I tried the first bite I was surprised at how flaky and light the pastry crust was. It is really lovely – delightful. While I enjoy really tart desserts, this one is not caustic at all. It’s a smooth, sweet, and bright dessert that feels light and refreshing on the tongue. That could be because I used half Meyer lemons and half regular lemons. Perhaps if I had used all regular lemons it wouldn’t be as mellow and fragrant, but I love Meyer lemons for that very reason. This recipe is a keeper. I love love love it.

and the earth orbits the sun in all her glory

Tarte au Citron Nézard
[print recipe]
from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax

tart dough
1 1/2 cups flour (if you double recipe, use 2 1/2 cups flour)
2 tbsps sugar
pinch salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
3 tbsps ice water or cold orange juice (i used more than double this amount)

Sift the flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse, crumbly meal. Sprinkle the liquid over the flour mixture and toss with a fork until just moistened. I actually used twice as much liquid as was called for because it would crumble apart like sand otherwise. Press the pastry together into a flattened disc and wrap in plastic and chill for at least an hour (I chilled overnight).

lemon curd filling
2 lemons, juice of
6 large eggs
1 scant cup sugar
10 tbsps unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 lemons, grated zest of
3 tbsps apricot preserves or orange marmalade
paper thin lemon slices

Whisk the lemon juice, eggs, and sugar together in the top of a double boiler or heatproof bowl until blended. Add the butter to the egg-lemon mix and set over simmering water. Whisk constantly over simmering water for about 8 minutes (if you double the recipe, it takes about 20 minutes) or until the mixture becomes thick and smooth. Be sure to scrape the bottom because you don’t want the egg to cook/curdle (that makes curd kinda nasty). Remove from heat and pass the curd through a strainer into a bowl. Whisk in the lemon zest. If you don’t use the curd right away, lay plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate it.

Assemble and bake the tart: Roll the chilled pastry dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Shoot for a thin dough that is circular and larger than your tart pan by an inch-margin. Gently and loosely roll your dough onto your rolling pin then unroll it without stretching the pastry over your 9-inch or 10-inch tart pan (you want a removable bottom on this pan). Trim off the excess dough leaving about a 3/4-inch overhang (oops, I didn’t do this but I dare say it’s a good idea since there is shrinkage) and carefully press the dough into the sides of the pan. The dough should form a smooth and high border along the edges. Chill the tart shell and preheat the oven to 400°F. Make sure the rack is in the center of the oven. Line the tart shell with lightly buttered foil (butter-side down) and fill the foil with dried beans or pie weights. Set the pan on a heavy baking sheet and bake until the edges are set (about 8-10 minutes). Carefully remove the foil and weights from the tart and prick the dough with a fork in several places. Return the tart shell to the oven and bake until pale gold, about 8 more minutes. Cool slightly. Leave the oven on.

Pour the custard into the tart shell (don’t let it overflow or it burns and turns a dark brown color). Bake the tart for about 30 minutes or until the filling is set and lightly golden (don’t let it brown, it’s prettier). Let cool to room temperature for about 1-2 hours. Strain the preserves over the surface of the tart. I had to heat mine up so it would spread easily. Brush it over the surface of the tart taking care not to tear the custard. Place lemon slices in the center of the tart and brush the slices with preserves (I skipped that part). Remove the tart from the pan and serve at room temperature.

51 nibbles at “caught up and leaping ahead”

  1. Memoria says:

    What a lovely tart!! I’ve never heard of using orange juice in crust dough. Wow. I heard that freezing the pie crust for about 15-30 minutes before baking it prevents shrinkage. I know you’re a pro, so I guess you knew that already. Anyway, I’m bookmarking this recipe. I’ve been craving a citrus dessert. I love fruit desserts more than chocolate ones as well. I just don’t like the tediousness in the preparation of the fruits haha. Chocolate desserts are just quicker to make. Thanks for another great recipe and beautiful photos.

  2. Dawn says:

    How exciting. I got a yen the other day to make some fruit curd after we talked about it in a cooking class. I made orange, lemon, grapefruit and lime…. in the microwave. I have given a few jars away but still have about 10 of them sitting in the fridge. I think I will whip up this crust and add one of my creations. Thanks for sharing.

  3. E. Thai says:

    Hi Jen,
    Love your blog! Have been reading here and there after I came across it from SteamyKitchen. I share your passion – I love real butter and I enjoy writing. You are my inspiration.
    I’ve always wondered about these food bloggers, how they manage to take all these awesome pics while cooking. Maybe they have a spouse to help with the photography? Love your snowflake picture, by the way.

  4. Kristin says:

    You’ve gotta love an incredibly well behaved tart filling. Especially one that’s so gorgeous.

  5. thedelishdish says:

    those look beautiful!! i just made a meyer lemon tart (from smitten kitchen) that ended up tasting good, but I had major issues with the filling and the texture ended up being off in the end. will try this recipe next time!

  6. Jenn says:

    YUM!! Lemon is my favorite, just like you I would choose it over chocolate every single time. It is always so refreshing feeling. This looks fantaastic, thanks for sharing!

  7. Irene Low says:

    I have been visiting your blog sometime ago. I love your ktichen tour. Maybe if I ever get a new kitchen, I will hop over to your site for ideas.

    You have veri nice pictures, all veri vivid and bright.

    Gotta learn from you….

    : )

  8. radish says:

    I’ve been meaning to do a lemon tart. Maybe this week – it is such a cheerful dessert especially when we’re in the throes of winter and everything looks bleak and feels cold. I’d have this with a cup of Earl Grey tea! looks lovely.

  9. Sarah Welch says:

    Hmmm…I might have to try to make this in grapefruit :)

  10. SallyBR says:

    Jen, if you have “Desserts by Pierre Herme’ ” (most of his recipes are way out of my comfort zone, but would be “cake” for you! :-) – check out his take on lemon tart. That one I made a few times, it is superb – he uses a trick to rub the lemon zest with the sugar and allow it to sit for a while before making the curd. Amazing the depth of flavor. It does have a ton of butter, but… such is life.

    Loved your photos, as usual…

  11. Lydia Schrandt says:

    This looks awesome Jen! I think I’ll be making these for the superbowl as I’ll need something to do when the boys watch the game.

  12. melissa says:

    It sounds and looks absolutely delicious. There is nothing more refreshing than a lemon dessert. And oh, I love making pie/tart crusts.

    I agree with you about fruit vs. chocolate, by the way. Give me fruit any day of the week (and twice on Sundays).

  13. Georgia.Pellegrini says:

    bringing the taste and color of summer into winter!

  14. Laura B. says:

    i’m a fruit over chocolate person too!

  15. Irina (PastryPal) says:

    Now I can commiserate with you about how much longer it takes to photograph a recipe as you make it. It definitely makes me drag my heels sometimes. You do a great job with keeping up your blog, doing it so beautifully and to a continually high standard. Your blog rocks.

  16. Manggy says:

    I was going to say that maybe the dough got a little stretched as you draped it over the tin, but now that I see the baked shell, I’d say it actually isn’t a lot of shrinkage (just enough for the shell to come out easily, hehe). But yeah, I could use a taller tart pan too– it’s all bout the filling baybee!
    I too love fruits over chocolate for the reason that you love fruits, and as for chocolate — it’s just a little tired for me. Especially when most recipes like stacking chocolate on top of chocolate without any fruit for interest :/
    I love it when the tops are glazed, it has that beautiful pro look. And of course I love lemon tarts without exception!

  17. Jennifer says:

    AMAZING photos!!! Im jealous of your “little snow” too! Beautiful tart!!

  18. Eesh says:

    Wow! Looks great! I made a meyer lemon tart from Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques. That recipe has a layer of chocolate between the crust and lemon filling. However, I must have done something wrong because on day two, the chocolate had completely solidified and was hard to cut. Any ideas on how to keep the chocolate malleable?

  19. Dragana says:

    Just wonderful!!! I, too, am a fruit over chocolate person. Give me a lemon tart over a chocolate one any day.

  20. barbara says:

    I love chocolate but I’d say I’m a fruit person also. In a restaurant I’m more likely to order something with fruit than chocolate.

    Your lemon tart looks devine. There is lemon tart on my blog today but because of my stupid oven the top started to brown. I use a recipe that doesn’t require blind baking the pastry first.

  21. Phoo-D says:

    I am fruit person through and through and lemons are my favorite. This tart is my idea of the perfect dessert. Marvelous.

  22. Jennifer says:

    I recently made some faaaabulous meyer lemon curd just to top scones. I know exactly what I’ll be doing next time I can get my hands on some meyers!

  23. Debbie says:

    It looks like a delicious lemon tart and it’s such a good feeling when a recipe is a success! Yay!!!!!

  24. Mark Scarbrough says:

    An icy relationship with apricots! Holy cow!! That said, Meyer lemons are one of the things that make winter do-able. So long as I can get someone to send me some in New England from their California home!

  25. cindy says:

    yum. love a lemon tart!

  26. Nicole says:

    the lemon curd look so smooth and silky!
    I bet that taste absolutely heaven

  27. Mrs Ergül says:

    I once made a lemon tart that was to tart for anybody’s liking! But this has got potential for me to give lemon tart another try. But meyer lemons are a rarity here! Not sure I have seen them before!

  28. The Twindians says:

    hey…. im not a crazy person.. or maybe i am … frick it … but …. me and my twin sis both ….making spinache dip and pumpernickle at …midnight …googled the recipe online quick…. thinkin we mighta forgot somethin …. and we did…. the veggie mix.. but….. onion soup mix…. should work eh..

    anyway … liked the way you …..said everything….. sarcasm…… and VISUAL … pictures… contrast,. comfy.

    ANDDDDDDD the DOGGGGGGG …… cute pootch what kind??? …….. that’s what really made us…. stay and read..

    THE POOTCH …. all in … the… pootch.. okie doke.. take care…. keep on ….keeping on:D

  29. linda says:

    I love my chocolate, but I agree that fruity desserts rock. I think it has to do with the effort required in the prep of the fruit and the freshness factor. Lemon is my favorite, and I’ve been thinking about making a lemon merengue pie, but I think this lemon tart looks too good to pass up. I’m doing a women’s telemark ski clinic in VT this weekend (soooo excited!), but when I get back…mmmmmmm. Love your photos!

  30. Jill says:

    I love your blog, Jen. I know it must take a lot of time and thought to make just one entry, but you do it so well…it looks simply beautiful.

    And the lemon tarts….they are making me salivate. YUMMY!

  31. Valérie says:

    Ah, a classic lemon tart! Wonderful!

    That close-up of the snowflake is an incredible picture!

  32. Maninas says:

    Those snow pics are stunning, filled with stillness and beauty.

  33. Ruth Ann says:

    Your tart looks amazing. I can’t wait to try the recipe as I am a big sucker for lemon tarts. My little tree here in California is dripping with meyer lemons. Let me know if you ever want a shipment. : )

  34. Denise @ There's a Newf in My Soup! says:

    Such a vibrant yellow – just beautiful! As mentioned by Eesh, I’ve made the Meyer Lemon Tart from Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques, and it was fabulous. If only that snowflake was captured on Kaweah’s nose! Please work on that shot!

  35. Pat says:

    That’s just fantastic looking! Yes! The tart, and Yes! The snowflake! ;-)

  36. CloverRabbit says:

    I have a huge shopping bag full of lemons left from when we stripped the tree before the first hard freeze here in southwest Louisiana. Have been wanting to make lemon curd! thank you –

  37. farmerpam says:

    I just recently found meyer lemons, first time i’d ever seen them up here in the frigid northeast. I was skeptical that they could taste any different. Wowza, was I wrong! I’m a convert, love ’em. Your tart looks yummy……….wondering how it will fit in with my ARP. :)

  38. Abby says:

    Those snowflake pics are AMAZING.

    And the tart is gorgeous. It’s so very yellow! I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a lemon tart, but I really want to make one now.

  39. Karen says:

    I totally get you, like a bee gets honey…or something like that. I suck at metaphors. What I’m saying is I love blogging, I really do, but man it’s a LOT of work, especially with kids wanting dinner on the table sometime before midnight. You, my dear, pull it off spectacularly and make it look effortless. I always love popping in and seeing what you have to say and cook. Oh and I do love me some lemon tart!

  40. Lucia says:

    That is one of the most beautiful looking lemon tarts I have ever seen. The slices in the middle are stunning as well. Fantastic post, thanks for writing.

  41. Luney says:

    This looks absolutely GORGEOUS and so very lemony! The tart au citron recipe is from a pie and tart book my dad got for my for Christmas but I ended up taking over, since I’m the only one in the family who bakes. That recipe takes eight egg yolks and uses cream (can be substituded with sour cream, woot!) in the filling. This looks much more manageable with six eggs WHOLE eggs. And the lack of shortening in the crust makes me even happier, as shortening is a pain to work with.

    I will DEFINITELY be trying this out! The old tart au citron was my fancy dessert standby, but I think this one just might replace it.

  42. peabody says:

    Your snowflake shots are too cool! The tart is pretty awesome as well.

  43. jenyu says:

    Memoria – I’m hardly a pro. I probably could have let the dough sit in the freezer a little longer though :)

    E. Thai – my spouse is not a photographer, nor do I let him near most of my photography equipment – ha ha ha! It’s me and my trusty tripod here :)

    thedelishdish – good luck! I had zero problems with this filling and it’s dreamy! I should also mention that if something is going to fail, it will fail on me ;) Hopefully this will be foolproof for everyone.

    SallyBR – I have a chocolate desserts book by PH, but not Desserts. Thanks for the tip, sounds great.

    Lydia – say hi to everyone for me!

    Irina – awww, thanks! That’s really so nice of you to say :)

    Manggy – I just bought a taller tart/quiche pan! heh heh

    Eeeh – hard to say without seeing the actual recipe, but I’m guessing if you made a chocolate ganache glaze (chocolate and cream) that it would solidify, but not be rock hard.

    Barbara – hmmm, that sounds nice (and easier). Blind baking makes me a little nutty.

    Mark – isn’t that the trick? ;)

    Mrs. E – even using regular lemons, this tart is not too tart, but on the sweet side.

    Twindians – the dog is a black labrador retriever.

    linda – have fun teleing! I can’t alpine anymore because I love tele so much ;)

    Ruth Ann –, you are the most wonderful person on this PLANET. That’s so sweet of you – thanks! xoxo

    Denise – ha ha ha, Kaweah rarely sits still long enough to take a picture let alone to keep a snowflake on her nose – ha ha ha!

    Karen – thanks :)

  44. Kath says:

    Oh yum!! YUM YUM YUM!

    From one FRUIT person to another (teehee)

    Every SINGLE time I read your blog I finish hungry & with the BIGGEST smile on my face!

    Thanks for the smiles, sweetie!


  45. Dani H says:

    I do love chocolate, but I think I love lemon just as much. Luscious recipe! Your photographs are always amazing, but the snowflake goes beyond. Dazzling!

  46. Lucy says:

    I just made a lemon tart and it was a major fail – my craving is not fulfilled. This looks like I have just found the perfect recipe to try again – your tart is so beautiful and making me crave lemony goodness even more. Delicious!

  47. Caitlin says:

    I’m slowly coming over to the citrus side of things – the more I eat things when they’re in season, the more I find that I crave things once they come into season. I don’t know if that made any sense, but basically it means I’ve been mainlining citrus for a couple months now. Chocolate comes and goes still though :)

  48. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) says:

    Oh my, I LOVE the first two pictures! You are amazing. The tarts look great too, even though I’m a chocolate girl, puckery lemony stuff holds a special place!

  49. Kelli says:

    I made this recipe and it was amazing. The crust was so flaky and delicious. I did change one little thing. I felt like my lemons were kind of tart so I added a little freshly squeezed navel orange juice (and a little zest) to add some sweetness and interest in the flavor. I probably would have made as is if I could have gotten my hands on meyer lemons. I would recommend this to anyone with plain old lemons. I also skipped the preserves and just dusted with a little powdered sugar before serving.

    I agree with previous posts, I love not having to separate the eggs. It makes this come together very easily and I don’t have to figure out what to do with a bunch of leftover egg whites.

  50. Sharon says:

    Thank you Jen!

  51. Lemon Tart – Come on in, I hope you are hungry! says:

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