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Lemon Tart and French Tart Shell

I got both the Lemon Tart and Tart Shell recipes from David Lebovitz whose recipes, as usual, are wonderfully written and very informational.

Now hold on to your seats, put down your drink, shallow your food: this little French number is INCREDIBLY easy. Yes, French AND easy in the same sentence. I absolutely adore this recipe, simply because I’m incapable of cutting in cold butter/shortening into flour. Its like knitting, it can’t be done.

This crazy simple tart shell recipe has you place butter, sugar, oil and water into an oven safe bowl and throw it into a 410 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then you mix in the flour and voila! Tart shell. Holy cow. How have I missed this? There isn’t even rolling involved! You just smoosh it with the back of a spatula (or wooden spoon) into the tart shell and then let it cool so you can continue smooshing it with your hands. I’m in love.

Just remember to poke it with a fork before you bake it. Whoops. Luckily, it isn’t horrific if you forget. I forgot and it turned out perfectly. The only thing I might tinker with is how much butter is used. For me it felt like the pan was very greasy, so  I might try making the shell again with a little bit less butter.

Now for the lemon curd part.

Mr. Lebovitz’s directions for lemon curd are by far the simplest I’ve ever followed. Most recipes I’ve read stress being very cautious about not cooking any part of the egg. Mr. Lebovitz, instead, just has you cook the custard over low heat, constantly stirring the mixture until it thickens and almost start to bubble around the edges. Then just put the custard through a strainer directly into the tart and bake for five minutes.

So without further ado, the recipes!

Tart Shell

Note: As Mr. Lebovitz mentions, be careful with the hot bowl after taking it out of the oven. Make sure you use a pot holder the entire time you’re mixing and dumping it into the tart pan. Also, for me at least, since I baked the shell before making the filling, the shell was cool by the time I had finished making the custard. Also, it didn’t take long for the dough to get cool enough to finish spreading it in the pan. 

From David Lebovitz 
90 g (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola)
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
150 g (5oz, or 1 slightly-rounded cup) flour

Preheat the oven to 410º F (210º C).

1. In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, such as a Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt.

2. Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.

3. When done, remove the bowl from oven (and be careful, since the bowl will be hot and the mixture might sputter a bit), dump in the flour and stir it in quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

4. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch (23 cm) tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it a bit with a spatula.

5. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with the heel of your and, and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold. Reserve a small piece of dough, about the size of a raspberry, for patching any cracks.

(Paule takes a fork and reinforces the dough to the sides, which I didn’t find necessary.)

6. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork about ten times, then bake the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.

7. Remove from the oven and if there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to fill in and patch them.

I find it best to pinch off a small amount of the reserved dough, roll it gently between your fingers to soften it, then wedge it into the cracks, smoothing it gently with your pinky.

8. Let the shell cool before filling.

Lemon Tart
From David Lebovitz

One 9-inch (23 cm) tart
1/2 cup (125 ml) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
grated zest of one lemon, preferably unsprayed
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
6 tablespoons (85 g) butter, salted or unsalted, cut into bits
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
One pre-baked 9-inch (23 cm) tart shell

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C.)

1. In a medium-sized non-reactive saucepan, heat the lemon juice, zest, sugar, and butter. Have a mesh strainer nearby.

2. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and the yolks.

3. When the butter is melted, whisk some of the warm lemon mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly, to warm them. Scrape the warmed eggs back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and almost begins to bubble around the edges.

4. Pour the lemon curd though a strainer directly into the pre-baked tart shell, scraping with a rubber spatula to press it through.

5. Smooth the top of the tart and pop it in the oven for five minutes, just to set the curd.

6. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing and serving. (Seriously, let it cool…I didn’t and it ooozed. It was good ooze, but it definitely oozed. It’ll try your patience though :P)

6 comments to Lemon Tart and French Tart Shell

  • Erica

    I love David Lebovitz's blog! All of his creations are so beautiful. Your tart came out gorgeous as well. I bet its super tasty too! Hope you're having a fabulous weekend

  • Rene

    I love reading his blog, especially when he talks about his experiences in France! Hehe.

    It was tasty! I really liked it because its tart and very lemony. I really liked shell because it was SO simple and no rolling required for a perfect tart shell. The only thing I disliked about it was that I thought it was overly buttery…so I might play around with how much butter is in the recipe :).

    I hope you're having a great weekend too!

  • thedelishdish

    I love David Lebovitz's blog! I just made a recipe for persimmon bread from his site and last night I made his wheat berries with roasted root veggies. I really like your blog as well! im also a student who stays sane through cooking and baking. this post is def inspiring me to make a lemon tart!

  • Rene

    Oo! Were the wheat berries with roasted veggies good? I was thinking of trying them :).

  • thedelishdish

    the wheat berries and root veggies came out great! ive never had wheat berries before so they were chewier than i expected, but really enjoyed them once i got used to it. would def make again!

  • Sarah

    I have made that tart twice now, with rave reviews both times. But both times, when I cooked the curd over the stovetop (which I found takes about 6-8 mins for it to thicken enough), the egg whites kind of separated out in small white globs in the curd. They get strained out in the next stage, but it made me wonder if I really needed the whites at all…

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