This tart is inspired by San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery lemon cream tart, with additional inspiration from this beautiful fresh fig and lemon tart from hummingbird high. It isn’t the simplest recipe but I guarantee you will be rewarded if you give it a try. Before you start you’ll need a digital thermometer, oven-safe bowl, an immersion blender, and an 8″ tart pan with removable bottom.
For the Brown Butter Shell (makes one 8-inch tart)
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- a pinch of kosher salt
- 6 ounces all-purpose flour
For the Lemon Cream Filling + Garnishes (makes enough for one 8-inch tart)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 fl. ounces) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
- a pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks // 8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
- lemon basil microgreens (Genovese basil, beet, or swiss chard micros would also make a nice garnish), + edible flowers (pansies shown here)
For the Brown Butter Tart Shell
- Preheat the oven to 410 F.
- In a medium oven-safe bowl, combine 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a pinch of salt.
- Place the bowl in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until the mixture is boiling and the butter starts browning.
- When the mixture has just started to brown. remove from the oven (but keep the oven on), and add 6 ounces of all-purpose flour by quickly spooning in flour a few tablespoons at a time. Use a heatproof rubber spatula to stir in the flour. Be careful as you do this and stand back (and wear an apron!) because the mixture will bubble and steam, but trust the recipe! It works, I promise. The end result is a dough that pulls off the sides of the bowl and looks a little bit like a lump of mashed potatoes.
- Once the dough is cool enough to touch, transfer the ball of dough into an 8-inch tart pan. Use the back of your hand to flatten out the dough onto the bottom of the pan, and your fingertips to shape the dough up into the corners and sides of the pan. It’s going to feel greasy and kinda unpleasant but trust the process again. Once the tart dough has covered the pan completely, use a fork to poke several holes into the crust.
- Bake at 410 F or until the crust is light brown and starts to appear flaky around 15 minutes. Remove carefully from the oven and let rest until cool.
For the Lemon Cream Filling
- Pour 2 inches of water into a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium heat, and bring the water to a simmer.
- Combine 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, 3/4 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt in a glass bowl. Place the glass bowl over the saucepan containing the simmering water to create a double boiler, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk until the mixture becomes very thick and registers 180 F on a quick-read digital thermometer. As you’re whisking, be sure to never let the egg yolks and sugar sit together for more than a few moments without stirring – the sugar will cook the yolks and turn them granular. Don’t let that happen, or your tart will be weirdly textured and I will be sad for you.
- After the mixture reaches 180 degrees (after around 10 to 15 minutes), remove the bowl from over the water and let cool on to 140 degrees, stirring gently from time to time to release the heat.
- Once the mixture reaches 140 degrees, use an immersion blender to blend 1 cup unsalted butter a few cubes at a time into the lemon curd. Blend well after each addition of butter and make sure the cubes are fully incorporated before adding the next few pieces. As you add more butter, the cream will start to turn into a pale yellow with taking on a thick, opaque texture.
- Once the butter has been fully incorporated, cover the surface of the lemon cream with a layer of plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 1 to 2 hours before serving.
- Once the lemon cream has chilled for a few hours and you’re ready to serve the tart, use a rubber spatula to carefully pour the lemon cream mixture into the prepped shell, smoothing out the cream with an offset spatula so that it spreads around the tart pan evenly. Decorate with microgreens and edible flowers and serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. I recommend serving this the same day if you have a special event because you can’t really cover it without disturbing the decoration and lemon cream. Also, the lemon basil microgreens are particularly delicate and will wilt over several hours so I recommend putting them on just before serving. Enjoy!