Sharp, full lemon taste fills this easy to make tart with a buttery crust. Chef Francois Payard notes that it can be made a day ahead, but the filling and crust should be stored separately until you are close to serving time. The dough recipe will make two tart shells; keep one frozen for a last-minute dessert.
- Sweet Tart Dough
- Confectioner’s Sugar - 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon
- All-Purpose Flour - 1-3/4 cups
- Pinch of salt
- Unsalted Butter - 9 tablespoons, softened
- Egg - 1 large
- Lemon Filling
- Grated zest and juice of 3 lemons
- Eggs - 3 large
- Sugar - 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Lemon - 1 large
- Apricot preserves - 1/3 cup
- Mint sprigs
To prepare the tart shell: Sift the confectioner’s sugar, flour, and salt together into a bowl. Place the butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, about 15 seconds. Scatter the flour mixture over the butter, add the egg, and pulse just until the dough forms a mass; do not over-process. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 24 hours). The dough may be well-wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.
Using one disc, let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Lightly butter a 9-1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removeable bottom. Dust the work surface and disc lightly with flour. Roll out into a rough 12-inch circle. Lift the dough often, keeping the dough and work surface lightly floured at all times. Roll up the dough around the rolling pin, then unroll it across the prepared tart pan. Press the dough into the pan evenly and roll the pin over the top to remove the excess dough. Prick the bottom of the shell all over with a fork. Chill for at least 20 minutes (or up to 24 hours).
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Lightly butter a piece of aluminum foil large enough to line the tart pan. Line the shell with the foil, buttered side down, and fill with dried beans, rice, or pie wedges. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the weight and foil and continue baking for 8 to 10 minutes longer, until evenly golden brown. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
To make the filling: Preheat the oven to 325 F. Fill a medium saucepan one-third full with water and bring to a simmer. Put the zest and lemon juice in a medium bowl and whisk in the eggs. Add the sugar and butter and place the bowl over the simmering water; do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Cook, whisking continuously, until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the hot water and allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes.
Place the prebaked tart shell on a baking sheet. Pour the filling into the shell and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the center is just set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Mask the filling with a circle cut from waxed paper or parchment and dust the rim of the tart with confectioner’s sugar. Place the tart on a serving plate.
To make the garnish: Using a channel knife or sharp paring knife, cut six lengthwise grooves in the lemon, removing 6 strips of rind. Cut a crosswise slice from the center of the lemon and place it in the center of the tart. Slice the remaining lemon halves in half lengthwise and then into thin slices; they will look like scalloped half moons. Arrange the slices around the edge of the tart with the cut sides against the rim.
Put the apricot preserves in a small heatproof glass measure and microwave on high power for 30 to 45 seconds, until the preserves have liquefied (this may also be done in a water bath on top of the stove). Strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the top of the tart with the glaze, lemons and all.
To serve: Cut into wedges and garnish each with a mint sprig.