Tender, buttery crust is filled with vibrant Grapefruit and Lemon curd before being topped with clouds of hand-whipped cream. Bake this sunny tart to chase away those winter blues as we await spring's arrival!
It was probably the promise of a zesty, vibrant filling, the dreamy clouds of whipped cream, or the hope of spring in the near future that caught your attention. Yes, all of these are important parts of the narrative, but the story of this Grapefruit Lemon Tart actually revolves around the crust.
My go-to tart crust was already close to perfection. But in true Tessa form, I wanted to test out a few recipes to see if I could come up with something better. The pate sablée that I’ve used in the past is tender, sandy, buttery and almost cookie-like. It has a great “snap” to it and reminds me of shortbread. Pretty great, right? But unlike most other pastry dough, this recipe called for softened butter.
Since I primarily work with cake and buttercream, I usually have a few sticks of butter coming to room temperature on my kitchen counter at all times. The idea of working with softened butter is very familiar to me, but not usually when it comes to pies and tarts. Even though I love the taste and texture of this pastry dough, I started to question why I was softening butter just so I could turn around and refrigerate it, not once but, twice before it finally went into the oven?
There must be another way!! After a bit of research, sure enough, there is another way. This method, like most pastry and pie dough, calls for super cold butter. It too comes together in a shaggy mess, but instead of rolling it out smooth, you press the crust crumbles into the pie tin before baking. Voila!
Truth time guys – I still prefer my old way. Maybe it’s because we are creatures of habit or perhaps I just haven’t perfect the “press into the pan” technique just yet, but I kind of like my softened butter way. One of the biggest turn-offs for my original recipe is probably the fact that you have to roll out the dough, but in the end, this is what I prefer. If you roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, then it doesn’t stick (usually the first headache that comes to mind when you think about rolling pie dough). Rolling the dough creates even thickness in the baked crust. Trying to press in the crumbly dough pieces was difficult for me since I couldn’t tell/feel how even it was until after it baked. I tried my best to create even thickness, but in the end the bottom was fairly thick (especially the corners) and I ended up handling the dough waaaaay more than if I has rolled it out. And since with pastry the more you mix and work the dough the tougher it bakes up, this was not a good thing. And, there is still some chilling involved. Of course I will give you both methods to try out, but personally, I prefer waiting for my butter to soften and even then having to roll it out as opposed to uneven, thick tart shells. The taste is great and it browned beautifully, but I will leave it to you to decide which recipe to choose. Lastly, I prefer to make my pastry dough in the stand mixer or by hand. I know by hand may seem like more work, but I prefer it over having to take out and wash my food processor, hehe.
Okay, now onto the filling! I thought spring was near, but Mother Nature decided to give us another round of snow. Snow in March? In Vancouver? This is not normal. I decided to make the most of it and bake up one last winter citrus dessert for the season. Inspired by Yossy Arefi’s incredible book, Sweeter of the Vine, I put together this Grapefruit Lemon Tart. The filling comes together like lemon curd then endures a short bake until it is slightly puffed and set. The sweetened whipped cream is optional, unless you let plastic wrap touch the top of your tart (like I did) and you need to give it a last-minute make over. I mean, I meant to do that! Enjoy!
Grapefruit Lemon Tart
adapted from Sweeter of the Vine
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and softened
par-baked tart shell (recipe to follow)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar, and salt. Stir in the grapefruit and lemon juice. Place the butter in a heat-safe dish or large glass measuring cup and set aside.
Place the saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly but slowly until the mixture thickens and registers 170 degrees (about 8 to 10 minutes). Do not let the mixture come to a boil or it will curdle.
Once hot and thick strain the curd with a mesh sieve over the butter. Stir until combined.
Pour the citrus curd into the partially baked crust. Bake until the edges of the curd puff up but the center still wiggles when you move the pan (about 20 minutes). Cool at room temperature for about 20 minutes before refrigerating. Allow the tart to set in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight before slicing. Top with whipped cream, if desired.
Sweet Pastry Dough
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
½ teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and chilled
1 egg yolk
1 to 2 tablespoons ice cold water
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, cut in the butter until the bits of butter are about the size of a pea. Stir in the egg yolk.
Working with only a teaspoon or two at a time, gradually add just enough water so that when you press the dough together it stay intact. The dough should still be shaggy and crumbly when done. Do not at too much water.
Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan. Start by pressing the dough up the sides as evenly as possible, then fill in the bottom. Reserve a bit of the dough to repair any cracks that may occur during baking. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes as you pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
Once chilled, line the tart pan with foil, shinny-side down. Fill with pie weights or dry beans and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the tart pan from the oven and very carefully take out the weights and foil. At this point, patch up any minor craks with the reserved dough.
Return the tart back to the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is light golden brown. If the center puffs up during baking, gently press is back down with a piece of foil or parchment paper.
Resume recipe for the Grapefruit Lemon Tart, or cool completely before wrapping in plastic. The tart shell may be stored wrapped well in the refrigerator for a couple of days or frozen in the freezer for a few months.
¾ cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
splash vanilla extract
By hand of with an electric mixer, whip the cream until it begins to thicken. Add the sugar and whip until soft peaks. Add the vanilla and whip until medium/firm peaks. By hand, this will take about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not over-mix.