Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rustic Lemon Tart

Virtually every time I see my mother-in-law, I come away from our visit with a new recipe.  This time it was her simplified version of lemon tart. I don't know about you, but I'm a little picky when it comes to lemon-flavored desserts.  Often, it's either much too strong (acidic) or the essence of lemon is overpowered by other ingredients such as sugar and butter.

What I love about this tart is that it is extremely easy to make and equally delicious.  Total number of ingredients? Five--not counting water and salt.  If you're looking for a decadent dessert, you'll want to look for something else.  This is a sweet dessert, but no overly so, and some might find it homely.  To me, its flaws are what make it so perfect. It might not look as pretty as other lemon tarts, but it's just as good if not better.

There's no fussing with this recipe.  No pre-cooking the egg mix or juggling a multitude of ingredients.  Nope, this is as simple as you can get and something that you can add to your last-minute dessert repertoire.  And if you want to cheat and use your favorite store-bought pie crust, by all means, go for it.  Alternately, feel free to use your signature pie dough recipe, if you have one.  Pie crust is so basic, but many of us have our own tweaks to turn out our favorite crust, whether it's flavor (shortening vs. butter) or texture (crispy, flaky, soft, etc. etc.), or both.

Rustic Lemon Tart

1c unbleached, all purpose flour
5T cold butter
1t salt
1t canola or vegetable oil, optional
1/2t white vinegar, optional
5-7T cold water, after 5, add more if necessary to bind the mix

2 whole eggs
1.5 whole lemons, juiced
zest from one lemon
1/4c - 1/2c granulated sugar

1.  Combine salt with flour and drop tablespoons of butter on top of the flour mix.  Cut in with pastry blender or your hands.  I personally like the resulting cooked texture that's the result of adding a little oil, and I enjoy the subtle flavor of a tiny bit of vinegar. But if you'd rather just use plain water, that's fine.  Mix in water (add oil and vinegar to the water, if using), starting with 5T and adding more if necessary.  You want a pliable dough that is neither too dry or too wet.

2.  Grease a 9" or 10" tart form and once your dough is rolled out on a floured surface, carefully lift it into the pan.  Set aside.

3.  In a medium bowl, mix lemon juice, zest, and sugar together until well combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat with a whisk until well combined (1.5 - 2 minutes).

4.  Pour into pie shell and bake at 325F/160C for 35-45 minutes.  Check at the 30 minute mark, in case your oven cooks fast.

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