- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 200g
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter chilled, cut into 7 pieces, 3.5oz;105g
- 1/3-1/2 cup chilled water 80-125ml
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter 3.5oz;105g
- 1 cup sugar 200g
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 3 large lemons, 185ml
- The zest of one lemon minced, just the yellow part of the peel
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/3 cup vanilla sugar 65g
To make the pastry, place the flour and the salt in the workbowl of a food processor and process to mix. Add the butter and process until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. With the food processor running, drizzle in the water and process just until the mixture comes together, but not until it forms a ball. The pastry should be quite damp. Turn it out onto a work surface, form it into a flat disk, cover and let sit for 1 hour. Roll it out to fit a 10-1/2 inch (26.5cm) tart pan, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or freeze for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
Prick the bottom of the pastry all over with the tines of a fork, then line it with aluminum foil and weight it with pastry weights. Bake in the center of the oven until the pastry is golden around the edges, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the aluminum foil and the weights from the pastry and return to the oven to bake until the pastry is golden all over, about 10 additional minutes. Remove the pastry from the oven and let cool.
To make the lemon cream, place the butter and the sugar in a water bath and stir until the butter is melted. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition so they are thoroughly blended into the butter and sugar. Add the lemon juice, whisk and cook, stirring gently, until the mixture is thickened, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove the bain marie from the heat, then remove the container holding the lemon cream from the bain marie, and let it cool to room temperature. Stir in the lemon zest. If you have made this the night before, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate..
If you have made this the day that you’re planning to serve it, spread the pastry with the lemon mixture and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 hours before you plan to serve it.
Right before serving, make the meringue - in a large bowl or the workbowl of a mixer fit with a whisk, whisk the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they are foamy. With the mixer running or whisking constantly slowly add the sugar to the egg whites and continue whisking until the egg whites are bright white and have formed stiff peaks.
Preheat the broiler.
Spread the meringue over the top of the lemon tart, and place under the broiler until the meringue is golden on top. Remove from the broiler, transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.
NOTE: that the lemon cream is made over a water bath, so it won’t curdle. You may make the cream the night before, cover it well and refrigerate overnight. Be sure to spread the lemon cream atop the pre-baked pastry at least 2 hours before you serve the tart, so that it softens the pastry slightly and makes for a harmonious ensemble.