The Niedrist family is not known to have much of a sweet tooth.
Sure, if anybody would offer a Crème Brulé for free, we wouldn’t turn it down. But under normal circumstances, we would always opt for cheese, especially if the restaurant trolley is charged with Epoisses and Comté…
However, what I really like is a classic Lemon Tarte.
Since I’ve watched Massimo Botturas episode at “Chef’s Table” (go watch it, if you haven’t already, it’s really worth it), I wanted to bake a Lemon Tarte. The problem is I’m not a pâtissiére. I’m not even a very good baker. It took me years to finally try it, but as it turned out it isn’t that difficult at all. And it is indeed the perfect dessert. Let me tell you why:
1) It’s not too sweet. Acidity and sweetness are equally present. It has crunchy and tender parts. It is perfectly balanced and refreshing.
2) It’s not too heavy. I am not talking about calories (I would never, mostly because of the cheese love I talked before), but you are not feeling heavy after one slice. You can even eat two slices and still feel amazing.
3) You can bake it all year round without compromising too much on ingredient’s quality. Lemons can be stored for several weeks and are easily available. That’s also why many don’t know when we have lemon season. In Europe, they get harvested from autumn into late winter, which makes Lemon Tartes also a great dessert for Winter. But – you can have perfect lemons during summer too. And who doesn’t wish for some refreshment during those hot days of July?
The main component of this Tarte is – of course – the filling, called “Lemon curd”. It basically consists of two major ingredients: Lemon juice and eggs. I don’t have to mention that eggs from happy chickens (aka free-range chickens living near to you) will always be the best option. Please don’t settle for less!
And when it comes to lemons, we are obviously massivly spoiled here in Italy. They grow perfectly well in many southern regions (Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicilia…), every one of them presenting individual characteristics. We even have several types of IGP and DOP lemons, like the famous “Limone di Amalfi”, just as the ones from Gargano, Sorrento, Messina, Rocca Imperiale, Siracusa and now even from Mount Etna. Some are higher in acidity, some have thicker skins. Some have strange forms, others are very juicy. Just look closely, take them in your hands, smell them, taste them. You will notice the differences with ease.
Other than this, there is nothing complicated in baking a Lemon Tarte. Just go ahead and try it. You will be surprised.
You have to prepare the Tarte dough (a French pâte sucré, the classic Mürbteig), a simple buttery Tarte dough, that is baked and cooled before filling it with the lemon curd.
80 g sugar
120 g butter
1 egg yolk
175 g flour
1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla
2 tablespoons of water
1 pinch of salt
Bake for 15-20 minutes. You can remove the foil or baking paper for the last 3 minutes to achieve firmness and golden-brown color. Take it out the oven and cool completely.
180 g sugar
80 g butter
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons of lemon zest
180 ml lemon juice
1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar
In a large heat-resistant bowl or pan, combine the ingredients. Whisk by hand and cook the mixture at medium temperature, stirring constantly, until it thickened.
Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and pour the lemon curd into the cooled Tarte dough. Put the Tarte into the fridge, preferably overnight.
Enjoy with coffee, a glass of Spätlese or Ruby Port from our friends at Quinta do Tedo.
And then – let me know how you liked it!