Recipe #1 : Lemon tart topped with meringue

The very first recipe on La Pistacheraie in English had to be the lemon tart topped with meringue. This true French pastry classic also happens to be the first ‘proper’ pastry I have baked… So there is definitely something emotional about this recipe ! There will be several recipes of lemon tarts on La Pistacheraie.com, including some with candied lemon zest, some with a flavoured meringue and different types of dough for the shell… Actually, there is just as many lemon tarts recipes as there are lemon tarts bakers.

I have chosen a soft, creamy Italian meringue with cooked sugar because of its dense and yet very soft structure. This type of meringue shines more than Swiss or French meringue, so this is in my opinion the best suited meringue for lemon tart. Further down, there is a very flavorful lemon curd that is not as sticky and sweet as some English recipes. This one is slightly creamy. Last, but not least, the sweet crunchy shell(pate sucrée) has butterly accents and a hint of almonds, making the whole thing even more obscene. The yellow color of the cream is brought by egg yolks, therefore this recipe is 100% natural and does not require super rare ingredients.

Level: 2/5 – Easy
Length : Requires 2hrs + 1 hour to leave the lemon curd to cool.
Required tools/appliances : oven, 24cm tart ring/mould, whip, rolling pin
Recommended tools/appliances: silicon baking sheet, stand-mixer, electric whip, piping bag, Star piping nozzle (F8 type), thermometer, spatula, chef’s torch.
Rare ingredients: none
Cost: Pretty low (less than €10)
Serves: 8 persons or more

Recipe:
-1 Sweet dough shell / Pâte sablée/sucrée
-2 Lemon curd
-3 Italian Meringue

1) Sweet dough shell

-210g wheat flour T45 (for pastry)
-110g unsalted butter (cold)
-30g icing sugar
-30g powdered almonds gently baked at 150°C for 5 minutes
-Liquid vanilla extract (1tsp)
-pinch of salt
-30g of egg (a half egg)

Mix all the powders together (flour, icing sugar, almonds, salt) and then add the vanilla extract.

Then, add on the cold butter in small pieces.
With your fingertips, pinch every piece of butter against the powders. You may use a Kitchenaid/Kenwood standmixer for this if you have one (with the K or leaf)

Keep on doing this until you can’t tell the difference between butter and powders. It should look like sand at this stage, hence the French name “pâte sablée” (sable=sand))

Fold in the 30g of egg and knead the dough until it is homogenous. Give it a ball shape and leave it to cool for half an hour in the fridge.

Then, flatten the dough with a rolling pin until it is 3mm thick and gently put it inside your tart ring, on the silicon baking sheet. With a fork, gently do a few holes in the raw dough to ensure optimal heat diffusion.

On top of your raw shell, add some parchment paper and then, some apricot pits, or some ceramic pits, or anything you use for blind-baking tarts. The idea is to prevent the tart shell from rising in the oven…

Bake it in the oven at 180°C for 15 minutes with the pits/ceramic balls on top, then remove this and the parchment paper and leave it 10 more minutes in the oven until it looks golden.
Remove the tart ring and leave it to cool. In the meanwhile we are going to prepare the lemon curd.

2)Creamy lemon curd

-20cl fresh lemon juice (+/- the juice of four big juicy lemons…)
-150g white granulated sugar
-2tbsp water

-3 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks (the missing three egg whites are used later on, for the meringue)
-2cs Maïzena/Sweetcorn starch
-50g granulated sugar
-20cl full fat cream
-100g unsalted butter

Slice the lemons and squeeze them to extract the juice until you have 20cl.

Fold the water and the 150g of granulated suger into the lemon juice. Stir well.

Put this lemon syrup in a pan and heat it until it boils gently. Immediately after, remove it from the stove.

While the syrup is cooking, take a big bowl and put inside your 3 egg yolks as well as the three whole eggs. Now’s the time to practice your egg shells skills. Add the 50g of granulated sugar and don’t wait to whip.

Whip the eggs with the sugar until everything becomes whitish with a few bubbles. Fold in the sweetcorn starch (Maïzena or another brand) and whip again.

When the syrup is ready, pour half of it into your bowl with the egg-sugar-starch mixture, stir well and then put everything back in the pan with the other half of the syrup. Whip it gently to remove the grains.

Cook it gently on a small fire and whip it continuously. .
Stop when the stuff i stick enough to be taken with the whip (see pictures below).

Remove it from the stove and fold in 20cl of pre-heat cream.

Stir well, fold in the butter.

Then, use a blender or mixer to make sure your lemon curd is reaaaally soft and smooth.

Wrap it in plastic paper and leave it to cool for at least one hour in the fridge.

3) Italian meringue
Mamma mia !
-3 egg whites (room temperature)
-150g granulated sugar
-Enough water to have a wet sugar (barely 2cl)
-a few drops of lemon juice

In a clean pan, cook the sugar and the water (be careful, only a very small quantity of water is required here) and bring it to 121°C. Make sure there is no more granulated sugar.

Whilst the sugar is cooking, add a few drops of lemon juice to the egg whites, and start whipping the mat slow speed. You must have a very soft structure whith your whites: not yet a meringue, but definitely not a liquid stuff.

When the sugar reaches 118°C, remove it from the fire/stove, it will gain a couple of °C. Pour it gently in your egg whites whilst you keep on whipping them gently. Once all the boiling sugar has been poured into the whites, put your mixer on maximum speed and mix everything until it looks like a cream. The structure has to be quite stiff. It may take a little while, but anyway you have to do it in order to be able to manipulate the meringue (otherwise it will be to hot !)

Using a baker horn or a spatula, put your meringue into your piping bag with the nozzle inside.

Add the cooled lemon curd in the tart shell. Level it with a spatula.

Pipe the meringue on top of the lemon curd, use your inspiration !

Last, but not least, you may use a chef’s torch to make the meringue look more colourful. If you do not have this type of appliance, you can put your tart under the oven’s grill at max temperature for a couple of minutes.

Now, all you have to do is to slice it and indulge !
Bon appétit !

PS: Feel free to contact me if any part of the recipe is unclear. I would be glad to explain it in different words.

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