Tarte au citron – tangy, tart and delicious

The last time I tried to whip up a citrus tart it resembled scrambled eggs in a pastry shell. Not good. That recipe got veto’d.

This one below came out great – a crisp, sweet bottom and wobbly, zesty filling. The lemon curd filling is based on a recipe from David Lebovitz (Tarte au citron: Lemon tart) and the blind-baked pastry shell is from Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s Sweet. You can serve it with fresh strawberries or raspberries, and a dollop of whipped cream.

Makes one 25cm tart. Serves 8-10. Prep time and cook time approx. 2.5 hours.

SWEET SHORTCRUST PASTRY

150g plain flour
45g icing sugar
1/8 tsp salt
100g butter – chilled
Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
1 small egg yolk
10ml water

LEMON CURD FILLING

Finely grated zest of two lemons
250ml freshly-squeezed lemon juice
150g white sugar
170g butter, salted or unsalted, cut into cubes
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks


For the pastry shell, sift the flour, icing sugar and salt into a bowl. Add lemon zest and mix with a whisk. Grate in the chilled butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingers tips, blend/rub until the mixture resembles fresh bread crumbs (you can use a food processor – pulse several times). Whisk together the egg yolk and water, add to the mixture and use a wooden spoon to bring the dough together. Tip the dough onto a clean, lightly floured work surface, lightly kneed the dough and form into a ball. Press into a disk shape, cling film and place in the fridge for > 1 hour (up to 3 days, or you can freeze the dough and keep for longer).

Grease a 25cm fluted tart tin (ideally with a removable base). Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface (you may need to wait for it to warm up slightly). Ensure the dough doesn’t stick. The size should be approx. 33cm diameter and 4mm thick. To transfer the dough into the tin, roll it onto the rolling pin and unroll it gently onto the tin. Gently press it into place and fill any gaps/cracks. Trim the over handing edges using scissors.

To blind bake the shell, place baking paper on the pastry, ensuring it covers the base and sides. Fill with baking beans (or uncooked rice) and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the baking paper and beans, and prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork in 5 places. Return to the over for approx. another 8 minutes (until lightly golden and dry). Set aside.

To make the filling, place lemon zest, juice, sugar, butter, eggs and egg yolks in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over a medium-high heat until the butter is melted, stirring frequently.  Then whisk the mixture continuously until the mixture thickens. It should take approx. 5 minutes, the whisk will leave a path in the curd as you move it about the pan.  

Pour the warm lemon filling into the pastry shell and bake in the oven until the curd is just set but still wobbles, approx. 5-6 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin before removing from the tin, slicing and serving. It will set a little more as it cools. 

TIPS & TRICKS

You can make the pastry dough up to 3 days in advance and keep in the fridge, or up to one month in advance and keep in the freezer. The tart is best eaten on the day of making, but it will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge in an airtight container.

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