Lemon Custard Tart
- Lemon Curd:
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Sweet Pastry Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
For 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 or stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes pale in color and quite thick (like a hollandaise sauce or sour cream) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C on a thermometer). This will take about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest, cover, and let cool to room temperature before filling the pastry crust.
Note: The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Covering the lemon curd with plastic wrap prevents a skin from forming on the surface.
Sweet Pastry Crust: In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour and salt. Place the butter in your mixer and beat until softened. Add 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 lighten in color. Add flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Don't overwork or pastry will be hard when baked.
Flatten dough into disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until firm.
Have ready an 8 - 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart pan
with removable bottom. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 11 - 12 inch (28 - 30 cm) circle that is about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. 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 about an inch larger than pan.
When the pastry is rolled to the desired size, lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll. Unroll onto 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 pan and with a small floured piece of pastry, lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan. (If the rolled out pastry tears a little as you put it into the pie plate, do not worry. Just patch it together as best as you can.) Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry. With a thumb up movement, again press dough into pan. Roll rolling pin over top again to get rid of any extra pastry. Prick bottom of dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten in the flour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill tart pan with pie weights, rice or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface. Bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is dry and lightly golden brown. Remove weights and cool crust on wire rack before filling.
Once the pastry shell has cooled, evenly fill with the lemon curd. The tart can be served immediately or covered and placed in the refrigerator until serving time.
Serve plain or with softly whipped cream and fresh berries.