Fruit and Lemon Curd Tart Recipe

When summer fruits are plentiful, ripe, juicy, and sweet, it is time to make a French-inspired Summer Fruit Tart.  This is an easy dessert to make, if you follow a good recipe and use a few tips gleaned from David Lebovitz, author of my favorite new cookbook, My Paris Kitchen, and from the master of technique, Jacques Pepin.  Once you master baking a good sweet tart shell, you can tap into your creative palate to create your own French tart recipe, using a rich pastry cream  or an intense chocolate ganache for the base for seasonal fruits.

There are four steps to preparing this tart:

  • Preparing the Lemon Curd filling
  • Preparing the tart crust
  • Cutting up the fruit
  • Preparing a simple glaze.

Lemon Curd

Once you learn to prepare this mouth-puckering, luscious lemon curd, you can make batches to store in your refrigerator, to smear on fresh-baked Madeleines or scones, or to serve simply with fresh berries and a bit of whipped cream, or fill a cake or a tart.  For this tart, I decided to use a shortcut curd recipe from Dave Lebovitz’s blog, The Sweet Life in Paris, and this recipe was posted in 2009.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice ( I squeeze mine over a mesh strainer into a bowl to avoid having pits in my curd!)

Grated zest of one large lemon ( I buy organic and scrub first; use a fine microplane and avoid the white pith)

1/2 cup sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted or salted butter

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

Technique:

In a medium size saucepan, heat lemon juice, sugar, zest, and butter. Have your mesh strainer handy nearby.

In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and egg yolks.

When the butter has melted, whisk some of the warm lemon mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly to warm them. Then, stir the egg-lemon mixture into the saucepan, stirring constantly over low heat until the mixture just begins to bubble around the edges.  Pour the curd through a strainer into a bowl.

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Now, the Tart shell.

I relied on a sweet tart dough recipe from Dorie Greenspan, author of another of my favorite cookbooks, Around My French Table. I prefer this recipe for this type of tart, because it is forgiving, can be pressed into the tart pan rather than rolled, and it bakes into a cookie-like crust that does not get soggy from a lemon curd or pastry cream filling.

Here is a tip from me—purchase a non-stick, removable bottom tart pan. This gives you the ability to serve a beautiful in appearance, free-standing tart on your serving dish. They are inexpensive and versatile. But, you can use your spring-form pan or a glass or ceramic baking dish and simply serve it from that dish.

Sweet Tart Dough

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

9 tablespoons very cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces. (you can place the butter in your freezer for 5-10 minutes if it is not very cold)

1 large egg yolk

Place all of the dry ingredients into the bowl of the food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse quickly repeatedly until the mixture is coarse and resembles peas.  There may be some pieces that look like oatmeal flakes, but that is ok.  Stir the egg yolk, just to break it up, and then add it to the flour-butter mixture in the processor and pulse in long pulses, about 10 seconds each until the dough clumps. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper and knead gently just to incorporate all dry ingredients.

Press the dough into the tart pan, pressing the dough up the sides of the pan, and try to distribute the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan.  Prick the crust all over and freeze for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line the tart shell with foil and weight with dried beans.  Bake for 25 minutes, and then remove the foil/beans.  Bake an additional 8 minutes.  The appearance will be golden, and the texture will be like a shortbread cookie.  Cool.

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When the shell is cool, fill it with lemon curd.  Top it with the fresh fruit of your choice. I had beautiful organic black plums, nectarines and raspberries on hand. Be creative in your arrangement of the fruit.

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Glaze

This is not a necessary step, but I like the enhanced flavor and the glistening appearance, and I learned this from Jacques Pepin.  Thin some of your favorite apricot preserves with water or with Marsala  wine. You simply want a consistency that you can spoon over the fruit as a glaze. Add a few fresh mint leaves.  Chill the tart until serving time.

On another day, we will make a rustic Italian sweet tart, called a Crostata!

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