Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lemon Pie

Lemon pies are a favorite at my house, and for good reason. They are sweet and tart at the same time, and leave the kitchen with a nice fragrant smell of citrus once you grate or squeeze the fruit. The following recipe comes from The Model Cook Book, by Mrs. Frances Willey, from 1890. Apparently lemon pies were a favorite of the author as well, as there are seven different lemon pies in the book, including lemon fruit, lemon custard, and lemon cream.

My favorite lemon pie at home isn't technically a pie - it's a tart. I usually match it up with a shortbread cookie crust, but whatever you're in the mood for is what your crust should be. But make it a cookie or similar no-bake crust, as the pie is not baked.
Mrs. Willey's Lemon Pie - No. 1
One cup of hot water, one tablespoon of cornstarch, one cup of white sugar, one tablespoon of butter, the juice and grated rind of one lemon. Cook for a few minutes, add one egg, and bake with a top and bottom crust.
My recipe: a lemon tart with a shortbread crust. Easy, since there is no baking involved.

Caramelized Lemon Tart with Shortbread Butter Crust
This recipe is for an 11inch fluted tart pan.

2 3/4 c packed shortbread cookie crumbs (ground in food processor)
8 T unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c powdered sugar
2 eggs
3 yolks
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 t finely chopped lemon peel
1/2 c unsalted butter, cut in tablespoons
Granulated sugar for caramelizing

For the crust:
Mix the crumbs, butter and sugar until combined. Pour mixture on the bottom of the tart pan. Start by pressing on the bottom to firmly pack and then work up the sides. Press until there is an even layer of crust on the bottom and sides of the tart pan. Chill; reserve.
For the filling:
Place eggs, yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and chopped lemon peel in a large stainless steel mixing bowl set over simmering water. Whisk the mixture with a stainless steel whip until thickened and light. Mixture will be very hot; be careful not to overcook. Remove from heat and stir with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes. Slowly add in the butter pat by pat, stirring the lemon curd until the butter is melted before adding in another pat. Cool to room temperature, keeping it covered and stirring occasionally, then pour into reserved crust. Using an offset spatula, spread until even and cover the top with plastic film. Chill until firm, at least an hour or two.

For decoration, you can cut slice into individual portions and caramelize on the individual plate, or caramelize the entire tart and bring to the table for service. For caramelizing: sprinkle an even layer of granulated sugar over the surface. With a flame torch, wave back and forth over surface until the sugar is caramelized. Allow it to cool to a crisp caramel topping before serving.

Recipe from Renee Shelton.

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