Lemon Tart

The recipe

Crust:
Take a quart of the finest flower a quarter
of a pint of Cream - a quarter and half quarter
of butter - the yolks fo two Eggs - a handfull
of sugar Make it into a past - and role it out thin

To Make a Lemon Tart:
Take three Clear Lemons and grate of the outside rind - take the yolks of 2 Eggs and six whits beat them very well - squeese in the Lemons - then put in three quarters of a pound of fine sugar powdered - and three quarters of a pound of fresh butter melted stir all well together - put a sheet of past a the Bottom >and sift suger on the top - put it in a brisk oven three quarters of an hour will bake it
Note: feel free to substitute this crust recipe with a pre-made crust.

Notes for a modern kitchen

Crust

Makes one 10-inch tart that can be baked in a pie dish or a fluted tart pan.
*Feel free to substitute a store-bought pie crust here or your favorite pastry recipe. If you use a store-bought graham cracker crust (or other pre-baked crust), you can skip the blind baking step.

  • 2 cups/350g flour, additional flour for rolling out the pastry
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons/85g butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425°F/218°C
Stir together flour and sugar in a large bowl.
Cut butter into small cubes.
Rub butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture is grainy.
Add the egg yolk and 1/4 cup of heavy cream and stir to form a soft pastry. Continue to add heavy cream a tablespoon at a time until all the flour is integrated into the pastry. (I ended up using a whole 1/2 cup in the end.)
Grease a pie or tart dish with butter or baking spray.
Roll out the pastry on a floured surface. Arrange pastry in baking dish.
To blind bake the crust, cover the pastry with foil and fill the dish with baking beans or another weight.
Bake at 425°F/218°C for 12 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F/180°C for 10 minutes. The crust should be golden and set, but not as brown as when a pie is completely finished baking.

Filling

  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Zest and juice of 1 1/2 lemons
  • 3/4 cups/175g sugar, plus 1 tablespoon to sprinkle on top of the pie
  • 3/4 cup/175g butter, melted

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.
Separate the egg yolks, melt the butter, zest and then juice the lemons.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir in the sugar and then the melted butter and mix well.
Reduce oven temperature to 325°F/163°C.
Place the pie dish containing the baked crust on a baking sheet. Pour the filling into the crust and scrape any sugar from the bottom of the mixing bowl into the dish.
Sprinkle the top of the lemon custard with sugar.
Bake for 45 minutes until the sugar on the top crisps and browns and the lemon custard is set, but still jiggly.
Cool on a rack for 20 minutes before serving.

The results
This is a delightfully lemony pie with a flavorful crust. The sugar topping gives each bite a nice crunch, but the pie is only mildly sweet overall. Sharp lemon balances the rich custard and crust.

The significance

The Lemon Tart recipe comes from a handwritten cookbook probably compiled in Camberwell, England, between 1770 and 1846. It consists of two sections: the first section is all written in the same hand between 1770 and 1772. These recipes include transcriptions from printed sources (including Hannah Glasse’s  The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747)) and unpublished recipes, all from British cuisine. The second section appears to have been written in the early- or mid-nineteenth century and presents more British recipes in various hands. An inscription reads “Browne, 1827, Camberwell, Surr[e]y.”

While this tart includes a crust that is edible, many early recipes for pies and tarts used inedible crusts that could aid in preservation or simply act as a vessel for the tasty interior.