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Tarte au Citron/Lemon Tart

Tarte au Citron/Lemon Tart

September 27, 2012

The hot Mediterranean climate of Provence is more favorable to savory dishes and breads than to the desserts based on cream and eggs found in the north. Notable exceptions include the amazing array of candied fruits in pâtisseries and specialty stores, the nougat of Montélimar, sweet fritters such as bugnes that stand up well to the heat, and this quintessentially simple lemon tart.

Serves 8

Pâte sucrée 
1-1/2 cups (185 g) flour
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 g) salt
1/3 cup (75 g) sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 g) vanilla extract
6 tablespoons (90 g) butter, more for the pan

Lemon filling
3/4 cup (120 g) whole blanched almonds 
3/4 cup (150 g ) granulated sugar
3 eggs
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup (140 g) butter, melted
Confectioners' sugar
10-inch (25 cm) tart pan with removable base

To make the pâte sucrée, sift the flour onto a work surface and make a well in the center. Put the salt, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla in the well. Pound the butter with a rolling pin to soften it, add it to the other ingredients in the well, and work with the fingers of one hand until it is thoroughly mixed and the sugar is partially dissolved. Using a pastry scraper, gradually draw in the flour from the sides of the well, then work the dough and chill until firm, 15 to 30 minutes. Roll out the dough and line the tart pan with it, then chill for 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 375° F (190° C) and set a baking sheet on a low shelf to heat. Preheat the tart shell, empty, on the hot baking sheet and then let it cool, leaving the oven on.

For the filling, pulse the almonds with 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and the remaining sugar until light and thick enough to leave a ribbon trail when the whisk is lifted, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, followed by the melted butter. Using a spoon, stir in the ground almond mixture.

Set the tart shell on the hot baking sheet in the oven, then carefully pour in the filling so it does not spill. Bake until the filling is set and golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle of the tart comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool, then unmold the tart onto a platter. Serve at room temperature, sprinkling with confectioners' sugar at the last minute. The tart keeps well for up to 2 days in an airtight container but will not be as light as on the day of baking.

This recipe was published in The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan.

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