Monday, April 25, 2011

Presenting...Ally's First Lemon Tarte

Drum roll, please...

The Perfect Lemon Tarte, by Ally Iseman

My daughter asked if she could bake for Easter, which was music to my ears, and a lemon tarte was her choice. Lori Longbotham's book, Luscious Lemon Desserts, has a recipe that she named "the perfect lemon tarte" because as she says, "it is." So how could we go wrong? Also, if I remember correctly my friend, Jean, who gave me the book made it and it was delicious. 

Ally really wanted to do this all by herself, which isn't easy for me as I am a bit of a control freak in the kitchen. It's my domain and I feel like I have a personal obligation to direct anyone who steps foot in it. So I admit that Ally had to tell me to butt out a few times, and only once did I absolutely insist on showing her a step, but really and truly this is her magnificent creation. She read the recipe carefully, measured out the ingredients, and turned out the perfect lemon tarte. I even suggested she skip the step of combining the lemon zest and sugar in the food processor because who really feels like washing the bowl, top and blade? Plus, what difference would it make if the lemon zest was in thin small pieces in the tart.  She said, "I don't want lumps in the lemon filling." Ally held her ground and insisted on following the directions which was the right decision. Look at that smooth and gorgeous filling. Perfect!

The Perfect Lemon Tarte adapted from Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbotham
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 pinches salt
6 large eggs
1 cup fresh lemon juice (Note: Ally used 3/4, which was her call and it was a good one in my opinion. It was plenty lemony enough and I think that extra 1/4 cup would have been too much for our taste)
1/2 cup heavy (whipping cream)
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready an 11-inch tarte pan with removable bottom. (I used a ceramic pan w/o a removable bottom and it worked well)

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the zest, and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk together the flour, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Pour in the butter mixture in a fine stream, stirring with a fork, and continue stirring until the dough begins to come together when a small bit is pressed between your fingertips. Spread the dough evenly up the side and into the bottom. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is light golden brown. Let it cool on a wire rack while making the filing.

Process the remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar and the remaining 1 tablespoon of zest in a food processor until the zest in finely ground.

Whisk together the eggs, the sugar and zest mixture, the lemon juice, and another pinch of salt in a medium bowl until smooth.

Beat the cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a medium bowl just until it forms soft peaks. Whisk the cream into the egg mixture just until blended.

Place a baking sheet in the oven, place the tarte pan on the baking sheet, and pour the filling into the still warm crust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is just set in the center. Let the pie cool on a wire wrack.

Just before serving, generously sift confectioners' sugar over the tart. Cut into wedges and serve.
Note: After pre-baking the crust, look for any cracks that the filling could seep through. Make a paste with about 1 teaspoon of flour and 1/2 teaspoon water, and smear it over the cracks with your fingers to seal them. This recipe uses approximately 4 lemons.

So we packed up this beauty and brought it to my sister's for Easter dinner. Everyone was impressed with the presentation, and even more so when they had their first bite. It was a tender crust filled with the perfect lemon filling.  Just the right amount of lemon to give it a pleasant, yet not an overly tart finish. I think Ally made a good call omitting 1/4 cup of the lemon juice, and I love that she questioned the recipe when she intuitively sensed that it might be too much for our taste. That's a great quality to have when learning to cook.

Bravo, Ally! xo

 Ally and her Dad on Easter Sunday


  1. Ally looks Beautiful! so grown up!! :) Miss you guys.

  2. HOLY COW! Just made this last night. SO SO delicious :) Got a little confused with the bottom of the pan removal. It appears you left the side of the tart dish on? I removed the whole pan and had just the crust sitting on the baking sheet.And if you did leave the outside ring of the tart dish on, whats the point of the removable bottom?

  3. Lauren, I forgot to note in the directions that I used a tarte pan that does not have a removable bottom. I just reread and it is a bit confusing so I will clarify, but you cook the tarte in the pan and if you have a pan with a removable bottom you would take it out and keep the tarte on the bottom and put that on a serving plate. This exposes the sides to it's easier to serve and prettier to look at.

  4. There is nothing more precious then when our girls start cooking for us. Lemon tarte would be a favorite with my family, too! Your Ally looks very much like you:)

  5. Lana, it is such a joy to carry on the tradition of homemade food with our kids. I love your stories, too.