So I'm pretty excited about this: A reader who signed up for the Cooks Without Borders newsletter mentioned that she's craving a lemon-raspberry tart and would love a recipe. Hmm, I thought. That does sound awesome! Especially this time of year.
I didn't know how I would make one, but I decided to give it my best. I knew what crust I'd use: Lindsey Shere's amazing short crust pastry from the Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook. It's foolproof, easy to put together (even if it seems kind of crazy while you're doing it), doesn't require rolling pin skills (you press it in the pan with your fingers) and results in an incredibly tender and flaky crust.
I thought it would be nice to marry a classic lemon tart – filled will lemon curd – with raspberries somehow. But simply garnishing a lemon curd tart with raw raspberries didn't sound great. I could create a raspberry tart with lemon pastry cream, but pastry cream is a pain in the neck; lemon curd is easier and more forgiving.
I found inspiration in Shere's recipe for a simple raspberry tart. She has you brush a prebaked tart shell with melted, strained raspberry preserves, line the shell with rows of berries, bake it for only five minutes, and then glaze it. Why bake the berries only five minutes? "This brings out the perfume of the raspberries without softening and making them mushy," she writes. Bingo! I'd make a lemon-curd tart, pull it out of the oven five minutes early, add just a couple rows of berries (so as not to overwhelm the lemon flavor with too much berry flavor), bake it five minutes more, then glaze the berries.
It turned out great! Two pals and I nearly polished off the whole thing, in any case – after eating a giant dinner. My raspberries were sort of dull-tasting supermarket berries, but treating them this way heightened their flavor.
Are you up for it? Here we go!
First we make the crust. Don't be afraid: It's easier than you may think, and every time you make one it gets easier and easier. (Believe me: I'm not much of a baker, and I can manage it!). It's such a great crust that if there's one thing you want to learn dessert-wise, this crust might well be it. It's that good.
To make it, whisk flour, salt and sugar together in a bowl, add sliced chilled butter and work in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender until it looks like this:
Add vanilla and water, gather it into a ball, let it rest 30 minutes, then use your fingers to press it into a tart pan. It may look at first like you won't have nearly enough dough to cover the pan, but you do – just keep pushing it around with your fingers until you have an even layer covering the bottom and sides.
Stick it in the freezer for a half an hour, then it's ready to bake: in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until it's golden-brown and baked through. Got it? Here's the recipe:
Now let's make the lemon curd. Again, this may sound scary, but it comes together really nicely – and it has beautiful, bright lemon flavor.
Basically you cook eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, milk and butter – stirring constantly – over low to medium heat until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a thick cream. Let it rest five minutes, give it a quick whisk, then chill it. Once it has cooled down, pour it into the baked tart shell.
Bake it in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes, pull it out (leaving the oven on), add a couple of rows of berries, and pop the tart back in the oven for 5 minutes longer. Remove it from the oven, melt some strained raspberry preserves, stir in a little kirsch, and glaze the berries. Tart accompli! Shall we do this? Here's the recipe. Please let us know in a comment if you plan to try it – and if you do, how it turns out!