Thursday, September 22, 2011

When Life gives you lemons....make lemon tart!

It's a little cloud of lemony goodness to make all your troubles temporarily disappear. I promise.
 It's one of those days. It's a day when you need to just stay in bed and pull the blankets up over your head and call it a day. Last week, hurricane Katia decided to come visit us here on the west coast of Sweden. I guess she liked it here so much that she invited her grandma cranky pance to visit and bring her  rainy disposition with her. You think since us Scandinavians are heading into fewer and fewer hours of day light, that mother nature would hold off on the rain. Would it be to much to let us have a few days of glorious vitamin D days, before we are walking zombies amongst the darkened afternoons? 

The availability of lemon pie recipes out there is abundant.I really like the recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie and Pastry Bible (SCRIBNER) via
It is a mix between sweet, flaky and sour.The three best combinations ever.
This pie is an great beginner pie recipe. As it is an "open faced" pie with more work done by normal kitchen equipment then your own hands so to speak. Give it a go when your feeling a little down, and I hope your little tart/pie will pick you up from your dreadful feeling day.

Sweet Pastry Crust:
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg

How to Sweet Pastry Crust:
In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside. Place the butter in your mixer and beat until softened. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated.Don't over mix or the butter will separate and it can lighten in color.Add the flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. I found mine to be a little more sticky so i did need to add a  couple of pinches of more flour.Do not over work the pastry as it will be hard when baked. 

Have ready your little tart pans with removable bottoms or a large 8-9 inch (20-23cm) pan with removable bottom. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a large enough piece to fit over your tart plate or if making tartlets you can divide the dough into equal portions to roll out measuring the dimensions  of your tart forms. I used 10cm tart forms. I got ten tarts from this recipe.

To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll( always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness).To make sure it is the right size, take your tart pan, flip it over, and place it on the rolled out pastry. The pastry should be an inch larger than the pan.

pretty, and evenly distributed 
When the pastry is rolled to the desired size, lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin,dusting off any access flour as you roll. Unroll on top of tart pan. Never pull pastry or you will get shrinkage(shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the pan).  Gently lay in the pan and with a gentle touch use either a small scrap of pastry dipped in flour to press the dough into the forms or use your middle finger and ring finger to gently press the dough uniformly into the pie/tart form. Prick bottom of dough this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes so the butter can chill and the gluten can rest in the flour.
you can keep this rice in a tight sealed container and reuse many times
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F 205 degrees C  and place the rack in the center of the oven. Line the now chilled tart/pie form with baking paper or tin foil and either using  uncooked rice, beans, or baking weights completely cover the entire surface so it is evenly covered.Bake the the crust for 20/25 minutes or until the crust is dry and lightly golden brown.

For the lemon curd:
3 large eggs
1/3 cup (80ml) fresh lemon juice(2-3 lemons) DO NOT USE BOTTLED LEMON JUICE
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
4 tablespoons(56 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoons (4 grams) lemon zest

why it is important to strain your filling and whisk at a very low heat. curdling is not the end of the world
strained and whisked in butter, lemon zest, Just waiting for the meringue and the second final bake
While the crust is baking make the lemon curd. In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs,sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, whisking constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes pale in color and quite thick. This happened quite quick for me. Like 2 minutes. In the original recipe is states that this will take 10 minutes, so if it takes o minutes or ten. Just keep whisking and watch the temperature. It will come together. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any large egg bits or seeds that slipped pass you.(It should be thick like a hollandaise or sour cream) Add the chopped butter and whisk into the lemon curd until completely melted. Add the lemon zest and immediatrly pour the lemon curd into the baked pre-baked pie/tart forms.Reduce the heat in the oven to 350 degrees F 177 degrees C.Bake the tart for about 10 minutes or until the lemon curd is firm but still a little wobbly in the center. Do not let it brown or burn.


4 large egg whites
1/2 cup  (130 grams) white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar (in Sweden you can find it here in the baking section).

Soft, sticky and sweet clouds of goodness
Meanwhile, in a clean bowl using a electric mixer hand held or stand mixer. Using the whisk or beaters attachments. beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Using a a spoon, place dollops of the meringue over the entire surface of the hot lemon curd, starting at the outside edge of the tart. 
Press gently so that you do not  get any "weeping" when the meringue shrinks away from the edges and moister from the curd and egg whites develop. 
Can this be any better ? Simple, yet so satisfying. Good food does not have to be complicated.
(Make sure the meringue comes right up to the crust and there are no gaps between the crust and the lemon curd). Then, with the back of your spoon, gently press down on the meringue to get rid of any air pockets and to make sure the lemon curd is covered with the meringue. If desired, swirl the meringue making a few decorative peaks. return the tarts to the oven and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until meringue has nicely browned.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool, away from any drafts. when cool serve or else cover and refrigerate.
Makes a large tart/pie to serve 6-8 or 10 10cm tartlets.

Note: I use toothpicks in the finished pie/tarts and then cover with plastic wrap to protect the sticky meringue from the plastic wrap. Can easily last a few days in the fridge if you need it too, but best served the day it is baked.

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