So it seems the summer escaped from me. I had plans. Lots of plans. But somewhere between MIL’s broken femur, a cousin’s big fat Indian wedding, a visiting cousin, an earthquake, and a hurricane it all got lost. (Ok- I’ll admit the earthquake comment was just for drama. Apparently, NYC did have one but I did not even feel it.) I did not get to bake as much as I thought I would and have not had much time for blogging and tweeting to other foodies. My poor ice cream maker sat untouched all summer.
Luckily, my visiting cousin gave me a nice excuse to bake at least once in the last few weeks. This was her first visit to New York City so along with the usual tourist spots I also gave her a little tour of some of our pastry shops and culinary markets like Union Square, Eataly, and Chelsea Market. I asked her what she wanted to make with me at home and she was really interested in learning to make tarts- specifically lemon tarts and chocolate tarts. With so little time and so much to do and see, we really only had time for the lemon tarts. Since she has no stand mixer, I showed her how to best make tart dough by hand. If you want more extensive detail on what makes a good tart crust or on making it with a stand mixer see my instructions here.
Recipe (Makes an eight inch tart or four 4 inch tarts)
For the tart dough
125g of cake flour (1 cup)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces, and chilled
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
ice cold water (prepare about 50mL to start …only you will be able to judge how much is actually needed)
Sift the flour, salt and sugar together into a cold bowl. Add the chilled butter cubes to the dry mix. Using a pastry blender (or the flat end of a bowl scraper) cut the butter into the dough until the butter is about pea sized.
Next, make a well in the middle and add about 1/2 the ice water. Quickly work the water into the dough. You want the dough to be wet but not sticky. Make another well and add more ice water to the drier ingredients. The crumbly mixture should form clumps when you press some of it with your hand. If I think it is too dry, I sprinkle my hands with cold water and work the dough. This way I don’t accidentally add too much moisture. Do not knead it too much, just enough to be able to wrap up the dough in plastic. Streaks of butter are okay.
Chill the dough for at least an hour or overnight. Roll out your dough and fit it into either an 8 inch tart ring or 4 inch molds. Chill it again for at least 30 minutes. With a fork, make holes in the tart dough to prevent it from rising. (I also place parchment over the shell and place a pile of beans on it as added weight while baking.) Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned. Let it cool.
For the lemon filling
3/4 cup sugar
zest of 2 lemons
100 mL fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup butter
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Place the bowl over simmering water. Cook the mixture while whisking over medium heat. Cook until the filling thickens. If you can, measure the filling temperature and cook it to 140 degrees F. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Cool the mixture with plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. The curd can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for three to four days.
Spoon or pipe the cooled lemon filling into the cooled tart shell(s). Spread it evenly with an offset spatula. Decorate with fresh raspberries and powdered sugar.