Sometimes being a multi-tasker has its drawbacks. Like when you’re trying to half-bake a tart shell, and braise beef for dinner, and dust the living room, and do laundry, and listen to DVR playing in the background—things can go south quickly. Take this tart for instance.
The recipe is easy enough (bonus: it only takes one single lemon!), but since my Dutch oven (with the braised beef) took up most of the oven, I slid the pan on the lower rack but the tart shell didn't exactly brown evenly. Oh, and let's not forget that before I half-baked the shell, I poured the filling right in, yes, completely forgetting I omitted a step. Oops. I poured it back into a bowl, but the damage was (partially) done. Thank goodness for powdered sugar. Just cover the tart with it, and no one will ever know.
Side note: If you know anyone who's not a huge fan of lemons, try this with a Meyer. I'm telling you, it's a completely different experience: sweet and rich, minus the puckering feeling in your mouth.
Whole Lemon Tart
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Rollet-Pradier via Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets
1 partially baked 9-inch (24-cm) Great Unshrinkable Tart Shell (also via Smitten Kitchen, recipe below)
1 Meyer lemon lemon
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tablespoons (12 grams) cornstarch (I had run out, and substituted 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour for the cornstarch)
1 stick (4 ounces; 115 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven 325°F (165°C). Line a trimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and put the tart shell on the sheet.
Slice the lemon into thin wedges, remove the seeds, and toss the lemon and sugar into the container of a blender or food processor. Blend or process, scraping down the sides of the container as needed, until the lemon is thoroughly pureed and blended with the sugar, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the mixture into a bowl and, using a whisk, gently stir in the whole egg and the yolk, followed by the cornstarch and melted butter. [I actually just use the food processor for this whole mixing part, beating the other ingredients in until smooth.] Pour the filling into the crust but be sure to leave 1/4 inch between the top of your filling and the top edge of your crust.
Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake the tart for 20 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling, lightly browned and set. Don’t take the tart out until it is clearly set, however — you’re looking for a slight jiggliness with no suggestion of liquid underneath. Transfer the tart, still on the baking sheet, to a cooling rack and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before removing it from the pan. The tart is ready to be served when it reaches room temperature.
The Great Unshrinkable Sweet Tart Shell
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Makes enough for one 9-inch tart crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1. Pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. (You’re looking for some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.) Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change–heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic, for about 2 hours before rolling.
2. To roll the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. (Alternately, you can roll this out between two pieces of plastic, though flour the dough a bit anyway.) Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.
Alternately, you can press the dough in as soon as it is processed: Press it evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the tart shell. You want to press hard enough that the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that it loses its crumbly texture.
3. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
4. To fully or partially bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. And here is the very best part: Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer to fully bake it, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn’t have a lot of flavor. (To partially bake it, only an additional 5 minutes is needed.) Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature, and proceed with the rest of your recipe.
Do ahead: The dough can be wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, the flavor will be fresher bake it directly from the freezer, already rolled out.