The dwarf Meyer lemon tree that The Astronomer’s parents gifted us two years ago produced only three fruits this season, which meant that there was only enough juice, zest, and flesh to execute one lemon-intensive recipe. After scrounging my bookshelves, the internet, and a fantastic article titled “100 things to do with a Meyer lemon“ for a very worthy candidate, I settled on this Meyer lemon curd tart by Chef Anne Burrell. Cakes and cookies were all in the running, but I ultimately chose a curd-based creation to let the fruit’s one-of-a-kind flavor shine through cleanly and brightly.
While I usually bake solo due to lack of counter space in the kitchen, I recruited The Astronomer to make the shortbread crust because he’s got a cool touch that’s perfect for working, shaping, and forming dough. This left me in charge of the filling, which came together as simply as the recipe billed, although it was a touch too sweet for our tastes. The original recipe called for 1 1/3 cups sugar, but a single cup would’ve been more suitable for our puckery palates—the recipe below reflects this preference.
Our tag-team effort yielded a most lovely tart—smooth curd cradled by a delicate, buttery crust. While it would’ve been awesome to have had a more bountiful lemon harvest this season, we maximized our Meyer lemon pleasure with this simple but immensely satisfying tart. Ain’t nothin’ like California citrus.
For the crust
- 1 stick cold butter, cut into pea size pieces
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
- 1 egg yolk
- Pinch salt
- 2 to 4 tablespoons cold water
For the curd
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
- 3 Meyer lemons, zested
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 eggs
- Pinch salt
- 1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into pats
Make the dough
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Put the butter, sugar, flour, egg yolk and salt in a food processor and pulse for 30 to 60 seconds or until the mixture has a grainy consistency, or what Chef Anne Burrell likes to call the “Parmesan cheese” stage. Add half of the water and pulse the food processor 2 to 3 times. The dough should start to come together, add the remaining water if needed. Check the consistency of the dough by clenching a small handful in your fist. If the dough stays together it is the proper consistency. If not, pulse the dough with a little more water.
When the dough has reached the proper consistency, dump it out on a clean work surface. Using the heel of your hand, schmear the dough straight forward and roll it back with your fingertips. Repeat this process 1 to 2 more times, dust with flour if needed. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
On a generously-floured work surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 to 1/4-inch in thickness. Lay the dough in the tart pan. Push the dough into the sides of the tart pan using well-floured fingers. Roll over the top edge of the tart pan with the rolling pin to cut the extra dough from the pan and create a crisp edge.
Cover the dough with aluminum foil and gently poke the foil into the side edges to fit the pan. This will help to keep the sides of the tart tall and straight as it cooks. Fill the tart shell with the dried beans and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, remove the foil and beans and bake for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove the tart shell from the oven and cool. The dough should be golden and crisp.
Make the curd
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, zest, sugar, eggs and salt and whisk to a homogeneous consistency. Place in saucepan and bring to a medium heat. Cook, whisking, constantly until the mixture has thickened, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, 2 pats at a time until it’s incorporated and has a silky consistency.
Pour the lemon curd into the prepared tart shell and bake in the preheated oven until the lemon curd has set, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.
Makes 8 to 12 servings.
One year ago: Ton Chan Ramen – San Gabriel
Two years ago: Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash and Fried Sage
Three years ago: Pitfire Pizza – Los Angeles (Culver City)
Four years ago: Steven’s Steakhouse – Los Angeles (Commerce)
Five years ago: Cơm Niêu Sài Gòn – Ho Chi Minh City
Six years ago: Alma de Cuba – Philadelphia