Here is a quick and easy lemon tart recipe that will satisfy everyone who likes a little sour with their sweet. I've added a splash of whipping cream to the original recipe because I find it takes the bite out of the lemon curd filling.
In France you can find lemon tarts made in different ways, and there are probably almost as many takes on it as there are home cooks. One popular version is called a tarte au citron meringuée, which closely resembles a lemon meringue pie. The filling is usually a lemon custard, which you cook on the stove top and then top with meringue, which gets lightly browned.
However, with this lemon tart recipe I have chosen the equally popular but somewhat easier route of making a lemon curd-like filling. Lemon curd is a mixture of eggs, butter, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest that normally cooks on the stove top. Here though, the cooking is all done in the oven.
Note on pastry types: I have something against making pie crusts. I'm trying to get over it, but for the meantime I use store bought tart crusts. Here in France, you have quite a selection in the refrigerator section of the grocery store, all of which come in preformed rounds that you unroll to use. These include:
Pâte brisée - This is similar to a plain pie crust; made from just flour, butter, water and a pinch of salt. Good for quiches and tarts of all sorts.
Pâte sablée - This is usually a slightly sweetened pie crust, although the term sablée means sandy and refers to the manner in which the crust is made. The butter is cut into the flour to form a pebbly mass and then a liquid is incorporated. Many times eggs are used for this.
Pâte feuilleté - This is a puff pastry like dough, made by layering dough with butter and rolling it out, folding and repeating the process several times.
This lemon tart recipe works well with a pâte sablée - the slightly sweet crust provides a good foil for the lemon filling. However, some people do prefer it on a plainer tasting unsweetened pie crust. I'll let you choose, and if you want to make your own, by all means do so. Maybe you could give me a few tips to get over my distaste of such activity.
Fit the pie crust to a 9 inch tart pan and prick it thoroughly with the tines of a fork. Place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes to insure that the crust retains its shape during baking.
After freezing, bake the tart shell in a 375° F oven for 10 minutes or until golden. Remove the tart shell from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan as you prepare the filling.
For the filling, whisk three eggs with 3/4 cup sugar until well combined. Whisk in the lemon juice, then the cream, followed by the melted butter and lemon zest (if you are using it).
Pour the filling into the prepared tart shell and carefully place in a 375° F oven (this requires concentration and a steady hand as the filling is very liquid). Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven ( the filling should still be a bit wobbly). Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate until serving time.