Crostata al limone – Lemon Tart
Gone are Winter desserts of apples and pears. Spring is here. Color rules the day and fresh flavors reign supreme. The melons and berries of summer have not yet arrived, but this Lemon Crostata with its sweet lattice crust and tart lemon filling makes a light and sunny dessert.
This recipe is particularly good for beginners. Novice pastry makers, fear not. The crust, an Italian pasta frolla, is a snap to make in the food processor. And at a tiny eight inches across, it is a breeze to roll. You might wonder about the baking powder in the crust. A classic Italian addition, the baking powder gives the tiniest bit of lift, while promoting browning and tenderizing the dough.
I am often asked how to avoid soggy bottom crusts. I bake crostate, pies and tarts directly on a pizza stone. It does a great job of thoroughly baking the bottom. Soggy crusts will be a thing of the past if you use this simple technique.
Try this crostata at your next luncheon or light supper. Top a slice with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream for a perfect Spring dessert.
Crostata al limone
You will need an 8 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Place a pizza stone on rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees thirty minutes prior to baking.
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1 3/4 cups 00 flour
1/4 cup almond flour OR finely ground almonds
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon lievito Rebecchi (or 1/4 teaspoon baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla)
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, white reserved for egg wash
sugar to decorate top
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 large eggs
½ cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Make the crust: Place the flours, sugar, salt and lievito (or baking powder) in the workbowl of processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to blend. Distribute butter over flour mixture. Pulse until butter is in pea sized pieces. Lightly beat egg and egg yolk (and vanilla extract, if using), and with processor running add egg mixture, processing just until dough begins to clump. Form into disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Make the curd: Place butter, sugar, lemon juice and zest in medium saucepan. Over medium heat, melt butter, and heat mixture to just under boiling. Meanwhile beat eggs. Temper the eggs by slowly adding the hot butter and lemon mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and coats the back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Strain into a bowl, and cool slightly, stirring occasionally. Place plastic wrap directly on surface. Refrigerate until cooled.
Make the whipped cream: Beat whipped cream ingredients together until cream mounds very softly. Cover and refrigerate until use.
Assemble the crostata: Remove the dough from refrigerator and cut in 2 pieces, one about two thirds of the dough, and the other about one third. Wrap smaller piece in plastic and return to the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll larger portion thinly. Fold dough in half and ease into tart pan without stretching. Gently press dough against the sides. Roll the pin across top edge of tart pan to trim dough. Refrigerate while you roll and cut the lattice strips.
Roll the second piece of dough to 1/8 to 1/16 inch. With a fluted pastry cutter, cut into 6 strips, each 3/4 inch wide.
Remove pan with dough from fridge and fill with cooled lemon curd. Smooth surface.
Begin the lattice work by arranging 3 lattice strips across lemon curd. Place the first across the center of the tart. Position the second two on either side of the first, equal distance from the first and each side of the tart pan. Press ends of strips into top edge of dough in pan.
Weave by folding back the middle piece to allow you to place the fourth strip right down the center of the lattice so that it intersects the middle piece at a right angle. Unfold first (the middle) lattice strip to return it to its original position.
To place the fifth piece, fold the two outside lattice pieces back allowing you enough space to position the fifth lattice piece across the tart near the edge, in essentially the same position as the first two outside pieces, but running the other direction. Place piece and unfold the first two pieces. Repeat on other side of tart. Press ends of strips into top edge of pan.
Bake the crostata: Bake thirty minutes. At thirty minutes remove crostata from oven, and brush latticework with beaten egg white. Dust latticework with sugar, if desired. Return to oven for an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 1 hour. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.