Grocery stores and bodegas sell commercially-churned out, preserved and packaged "fruit pies" at cheap prices. Economical and filling, these sugar-loaded, artificially-colored, and preservative spiked gut bombs turn a tidy profit for the giant food conglomerate at the expense of taste. The worst of the lot are the "lemon" pies, which have virtually no lemons but a chemically-produced flavor that smells like Mr. Clean.
By comparison, this flaky tart is one of my absolute favorites - it is bright and sweet-tart, and will fill your home with the most delicious fragrance while it bakes. The filling is just lemons, sugar, and eggs. I nestle the bold lemony curd in a flaky butter crust in a shallow tart pan for balance, and serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream. This is simple but impressive and sure to put a smile on your face.
USE A 10-INCH TART PAN WITH REMOVABLE BOTTOM
Flaky Butter Double-Crust:
1 tsp. salt
3 c. + 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 c. + 5 tbsp. COLD unsalted butter
1/2 c. COLD heavy cream
1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, whisk or pulse the flour and salt until well-combined.
2. Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes and scatter over the flour. Using a pastry cutter, two knives, or the pulse function on your food processor, cut the butter into the flour until large crumbs form and you have some pea-size pieces of butter throughout.
3. Working in tablespoons, work the cream into the dough until it starts to stick together and you have a shaggy dough. You may not need to use all of the cream. You can use a fork to do this if working by hand. If you use a food processor, continue to use the pulse function but be mindful not to over work your dough so that it becomes like a paste or batter - you want your dough to still have some pieces of butter so that it is flaky!
4. Lightly flour a marble slab or other clean surface with flour and plop down your dough. Divide into two mounds and shape into two balls with floured hands. Wrap each ball tightly in plastic wrap, then press down with the flat of your hand to form 1-inch thick disks. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.
Lemon Curd Filling:
2 medium lemons, COLD
2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1. Wash lemons very well. Dry throughly and using a serrated knit slice as thin as you can. Discard the ends and remove any seeds. Place the sliced lemons and any juice on the cutting board into stainless steel, glass, or ceramic bowl and toss with all of the sugar. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 3 hours - if you need to let them sit for more than 4 hours, place in the refrigerator, then bring back to room temperature before baking.
2. In a small bowl whisk the eggs and salt together until combined, then pour over the lemons. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine well and set aside.
To Assemble and Bake:
Lemon curd mixture
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp. cream
1. Remove the two disks of crust from the refrigerator. Roll the first disk out on a lightly floured surface until it is 1 1/2 inches wider than your tart pan. Carefully line your pan and press gently to fill the pan. You should have about 1-inch of dough hanging over the side.
2. Spoon the lemon filling into the pan, making sure to spread the lemon pieces around evenly. Pour any liquid in the bowl evenly over the filling.
3. Roll out your second disk of dough to the same dimensions as the bottom crust and lay carefully over the tart pan and the filling. Trim the crusts to about 1/4 inch around the pan and then crimp with your fingers to seal. (I like to use the extra dough to make decorative designs for the top of the tart.)
4. Whisk together the egg yolks and cream until smooth, then brush lightly all over the top and edges of the tart. Place the filled tart in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 350F.
6. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Place the tart pan on the lined sheet and cut a few slits into the top to vent. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the tart is bubbling and the top is browned.
7. Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool completely. Place the tart pan on a large can or inverted bowl to remove the outer ring. Place on flat surface to slice - serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.