Have you ever had a meyer lemon? I suspect most people have at this point, but when I first tried one you could hardly find them in New York. My friend, Fanny, introduced me to them years ago and I think she even brought them with her from California at the time. That’s how good meyer lemons are: they’re the type of thing you pack in your suitcase when you know you won’t find them on the other end, like marmite or the entire inventory of a Parisian pharmacy.
Now, meyer lemons are everywhere in New York. And I don’t hate it. They’re much sweeter and more fragrant than your average lemon and taste like the love child of a lemon and a mandarin orange, or something like that. Their hybrid nature is perfect for a tart, just pucker-y enough for a citrus curd, but with a bit more complexity.
We made this tart with eggs from my parents’ chickens and can I just say… holy. shit. Yeah, it was super tasty, but what really struck us was the supernatural brightness of the curd. One of the main ingredients in a curd is egg yolks, which get yellower as a hen gets healthier, and the quality of the yolks made such a difference. Can you believe that color is actually for real? No fancy enhancing or tart face lifts – just straight life!
The color and the taste of this tart are both transcendent, so make it if you wanna feel close to God.
- 500 grams plain flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 250 grams unsalted butter, cold
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 whole egg
- 2 egg yolks
- 2-3 tablespoons cold water
For a 10″ tart pan
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Make sure all your ingredients are cold. Cut your butter into 1/2 inch cubes and put into the fridge. Put your flour, salt and sugar into food processor and pulse to combine. Take out the butter and throw into the food processor, pulsing until the butter resembles small breadcrumbs. Combine the egg, yolks and vanilla and pour over the flour and butter, pulsing again until the mixture just comes together. If you think the pastry needs more moisture, add the water bit by bit until it comes together. Gently gather the dough into a disc, wrap in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Lightly flour your rolling pin and your surface, unwrap the pastry and place it down. Start rolling out the dough, turning 45 degrees every few rolls to maintain a circular shape, and stop when it’s about 1/8 inch think. Then roll up the dough around your rolling pin and place over the tart pan. With your fingertips, press the dough down into the sides of the pan. With a sharp knife, trim away the excess dough that overhangs the rim. Prick the base with a fork (to prevent shrinking), wrap with cling film and place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes. Take out the beans, bake for another 5 minutes, or until the crust is nice and golden, and let cool. It’s now ready for the curd!
Meyer Lemon Curd
- Juice and zest of 5 meyer lemons
- Juice and zest of 1 run-of-the-mill lemon
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 whole eggs
- 6 egg yolks
Combine the lemon juices and zests with the sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan and place over a medium-low heat. Add the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Heat until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. It’s really important not to overheat this mixture, or else the butter will separate!
Crack the whole eggs and yolks into a wide bowl and quickly mix together. Let the lemon mixture cool slightly and then pour slowly over the eggs, making sure to stir constantly to release heat. If the lemon mixture is too hot, it will cook the eggs… and nobody likes that. Place the whole mixture back into the heavy-bottom saucepan and put back over a low heat, keeping the big bowl that you just used at the ready. Stir the curd constantly. I like to stir in a figure 8 motion to keep all the liquid moving and I always make sure I’m scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent the eggs from sticking and cooking. Cook the curd until it thickens enough to coat the back of your spoon and quickly remove from the heat, pouring it back into your cold bowl! If it curdles – no big deal. Try running it through a food processor and it should smooth out.
Stir the curd a little to keep releasing heat and then allow to cool. This curd can be made up to a week in advance if you put it in a sterilized jar and pop it in the fridge. It’s also super good on toast, scones, as a filling for birthday cakes… you get the idea.
To make the tart, preheat the oven to 350, pour the curd into your pre-baked pastry and cook for about 15 minutes. The curd should be just set around the edges and still slightly wobbly in the middle. It will set more as it cools, so let it hang out for 10 minutes or so before digging in!