Sitting beside a rain-streaked window, wrapped in a soft wool sweater with my fingers curled around a steaming mug of spicy homemade chai - I think I have embraced the fact that Fall is really happening. That being said, I still plan to extract every ounce of summer out of the remaining days, savoring the last of the sunny afternoons, sweet corn and juicy nectarines.
With the first chill in the air, I feel eternally compelled to turn on my oven and bake. In my opinion, a bright lemon tart is the perfect segue from summer to autumn. It's like sunshine enclosed in a buttery crust - perfect with a hot cup of tea on a rainy afternoon.
This recipe is dangerously easy - make it once and the urge might reoccur more regularly that you like. The whole thing can be made with a few whirs of the food processor. The shortbread crust first, then while it is pre-baking, whip up the simple lemon custard filling. No pre-cooking the custard on the stove - simply pour it onto the hot crust and put the whole thing back in the oven until set.
To extract the maximum amount of juice from a lemon, pop it in the microwave for about 20 seconds, then roll it back and forth on the counter a few times, until you feel the insides soften up. If you don't have a fancypants lemon juicer, slice the lemon in half, then squeeze it in your fist with the cut side up so that the juice runs down between your fingers but the seeds stay inside the lemon.
Once the tart has cooled completely, give it a good dusting of icing sugar for a lovely finish. Tangy and sweet, in a rich shortbread base, it is truly irresistible. Easy and delicious, it is perfect for a casual dessert anytime.
Lemon Tart with Shortbread Crust
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
Feel free to add a bit of finely grated lemon zest for a more intense lemon flavor. 3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice is equivalent to about 3 big lemons, or 4 smaller ones.
3/4 cup cold butter, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure all ingredients into food processor and pulse several times until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Press into a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Meanwhile, prepare lemon filling.
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, for dusting
1. Wipe out the food processor, then pulse together eggs and sugar till combined. Add lemon juice and sugar and pulse again until combined. Pour filling over hot shortbread crust, and reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Bake for about 30 minutes, until filling has set. Cool completely in pan, then remove and dust with confectioners' sugar to serve.