Early summer seems perfect for lemon meringue pie, blowsy with airy meringue and easy to wolf down before a late afternoon nap. But here on the precipice of spring, when it's still cold outside and summer feels so far away, we're looking for a jolt of flavor. This lemon tart hits that spot.
Like a Shaker Lemon Pie, this recipe uses the entire lemon, peel, pith and all. After macerating, the lemons are combined with eggs for a bittersweet marmalade-like filling.
The Shaker Lemon Pie has its fan club of lemon lovers, but detractors complain that the slices and rind are too prevalent and chewy. So we macerate the lemons for longer, softening and mellowing them. We also use a tart pan and only a single crust for an elegant look and a better filling-to-crust ratio.
If you're not a lemon lover, this is not the tart for you. But for those who love to pucker, this is a delightfully tart tart.
Tart Lemon Tart
makes one 10" tart
1 recipe pie dough for a single-crust 9" pie (we like this one by Rose Levy Beranbaum)
2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
Whipped cream (optional)
Equipment: 10" tart pan with removable bottom, mandoline, fine toothed zester.
Thoroughly wash and dry the lemons, then finely grate their zest into a medium bowl. Using a mandoline, slice the lemons as thinly as possible. Remove any seeds, and add the slices to zest, along with the sugar and salt. Stir, cover, and set aside at room temperature for 36 to 48 hours.
Roll out the dough to a 12" round, and fit it into the tart pan. Set it in the fridge to cool for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a second medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, melted butter, and flour. Stir egg mixture into lemon mixture. Pour everything into your tart shell, and use the back of a spoon to smooth the top, poking down any exuberant lemon slices sticking up above the fray.
Bake at 425 about 20 minutes, until edges are browning, then cover with foil and reduce heat to 350. Bake another 20 minutes more, until filling is set and crust is golden brown. Let cool thoroughly before serving. If you like, top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream.
Recipe based on Shaker Lemon Pie from Saveur's Desserts. All photos by Nina Callaway