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The Chef's Favorite Lemon Tart

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The Chefs Favorite Lemon Tart
From Not Afraid of Flavor (Canada, UK), by Ben & Karen Barker.

The chef's favorite lemon tart is a somewhat sophisticated take on Southern-style lemon chess pie. This simple tart really is one of Ben's favorite desserts and has been a standard in Karen's repertoire for close to 20 years. We most often serve this with a mixture of seasonal berries and lightly whipped cream. You can substitute a simple raspberry sauce made from frozen raspberries if it is not fresh berry season.

Ingredients for the Tart Shell:

1-1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
1 egg white, lightly beaten, reserved for baking

Ingredients for the Filling:

4 eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon, grated
zest of 1 orange, grated
1/4 cup heavy cream

Ingredients for Service:

fresh berries (or berry sauce)
whipped cream

Preparation for the Tart Shell:

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg yolk mixture and pulse just until the dough can be gathered into a ball. Flatten into a 6-inch disc, wrap in plastic, and chill several hours or overnight. Let the dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 13-inch round. Fit the dough into a 10-1/2-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim the dough flush with the rim and freeze the tart shell until firm. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Line the shell with foil or parchment, and fill with pie weights, rice, or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes until set. Remove the foil and weights and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove the shell from the oven and immediately brush the hot pastry with the egg white.

Hint: When rolling tart pastry, always save all the dough scraps in case you need them to repair a crack in a partially baked shell. If the pastry "bubbles up" during the baking process, gently prick the pastry with a fork to release air bubbles. Check several times and repeat if necessary. The egg white serves to seal the pastry, which is especially helpful with a liquid filling such as this. It is essential that there be no cracks of holes visible in the partially baked shell. Make any necessary repairs prior to filling.

Preparation for the Tart:

When the pastry is almost done baking, assemble the filling. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, and orange zest and cream till smooth. Transfer the tart shell to the oven. Place the filling in a pitcher and slowly pour into the shell as high as possible without overfilling. There might be a bit of filling left over.

Bake the tart for approximately 25 minutes, until the filling is barely set. Check the tart after 20 minutes and keep checking it every few minutes after that. It is crucial to not overbake this filling!

Cool to room temperature before serving with berries and whipped cream.

Yield: Makes 1 10-1/2-inch tart; Serves 8 to 12

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