Lemon Tart Time

I don't know what was going on with me Saturday. My alarm had gone off and friends had texted me, but I didn't wake up until 11:36am.  That doesn't happen to me often. Regardless of my late start in the day I went to the farmers market, enjoyed a short hike and went grocery shopping, but still felt tired and a bit anxious. Well, whenever I feel this way the next best thing to do is to cook something. Nothing feels better then losing yourself to mixing ingredients together, playing with food, popping thing in and out of the oven, the therapy of washing dishes and then sitting down and eating something tasty and delious. Yes, this was what I needed to do.

I had moved to Colorado at the end of March thinking I was playing it smart in missing most of the snow. Wrong. April snow fall this year has been on a record high. Six snow storms and there is possibly another one still on its way. Which means I needed to bake something summery, fresh, delightful and light to remind me that summer is coming. I did some quick research and felt like a Lemon Pie sounded amazing. However Lemon Pie is usually assoicated with Lemon Mergue Pie. I'm not a huge fan... hmmm, not a fan of Mergue at all. So my research changed from pies to tarts.

The recipe I settled on was from the Food Network by Jamie Deen. It had good reviews, looked tasty, had minimal butter and sugar... and had lots of steps. When I'm in the mood to bake I really enjoy the process. Something the requires opening a package, putting it on a cooking sheet and baking for 12 minutes, does not cut it. The Lemon Tart recipe had a lot of steps, but were all easy and basically required more attention to the crust which was really easy and tasty. So if you're new to cooking, don't be scared or pass up this tart. It is easy, just a lot of steps that you need to be aware of.

The Recipe:

Lemon Tart
Serves: depends on how big you cute the pieces

Crust:
1/4 cup blanched silvered almonds
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, sliced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Nonstick spray

For the curst: toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heart, while stirring, until just slightly blonde, about 3 min. Remove and place on a plate to cool completely. You can stick in the freezer to hurry up this process. - I didn't do this part and the crust still tasted really good. But when I make this again I'll make it with the almonds.

In a food processor add the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt and pulse a few times just to blend it. Add the cooled almonds (or a bit of extra flour it you're not using almonds) and pluse again for 30 sec. Add the butter and pluse until the dough looks like small clumps. Add the beaten egg and pulse in long increments, again until the dough comes together. It should be bunched up in a few balls. - I added a 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract since I didn't use silvered almonds

Spray a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with nonstick spray. - I didn't have a tart pan, instead I used a 9-inch pie dish and just covered with butter from the butter wrapper. Heavly dust your workspace and hands with flour. Remove the dough from the food processor. Knead lightly a few times to incorporate all the dry ingredients, and then form into a flat disc. Press the dough into the prepared tart pan. Chill for 30 minutes in the freezer. - in these 30 minutes I did some quick clean up and started juicing the lemons

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the tart from the freeze and place on a baking sheet. Prick the bottom of the tart all over with a fork to prevent the dough from puffing while it bakes. Line the tart with parchment paper and pie weights on top. Bake the crust for 25 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven, remove the parchment and pie weights and bake for 2 more minutes. If the tart has puffed at all during baking, you can press the dough back down with a spoon. - I also did not have pie weights or dried beans instead I used another pie dish and filled it with a bit of water to weight it down. This seemed to do the trick.

While the crust bakes, make the curd.

Lemon Curd:
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 to 6 lemons)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon size slices
Confectioners' Sugar, for garnish, optional

Whisk together the granulated sugar, lemon juice, salt and eggs in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan off the heat. Once the mixture is well blended, place over medium heat and cook while stirring, until the curd is thick, about 8 - 10 minutes. The curd is cooked when it reaches 170 degrees F. Turn off the heat or reduce to a simmer, then whisk in the butter piece by piece; it will lossen up slightly. 

Remove the crust from the oven and carefully add the lemon curd. Do not overfill the tart dough; fill just below the top of the tart. Bake the tart until set, about 10 - 15 more minutes. The middle will still be a bit jiggly, but once it cools it will be fine. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving. Garnish with confectioners' sugar if desired.

Notes About the Recipe: I found the tart pleasantly sweet enought so I didn't put confectioners' sugar on top, instead I zested a few of the lemon peels and sprinkled that on top.