I am a citrus fiend.
Every morning begins with a freshly squeezed lemon and honey tea. So needless to say, when it comes to pudding, the citrus option always wins. Not that I am usually a big pudding fan. Normally I get to the end of a meal feeling comfortably full and decline the sweet course, but if I am ever to make an exception then it is for something lemony.
I can’t bake to save my life, I can cook but I can’t bake. Whole other world. This recipe, however, is easy enough even for my baking skills. The only factor this recipe requires a great deal of, is time. Now that, I am happy to give when it comes to food – and this recipe is worth it. There isn’t another lemon tart recipe that comes anywhere close to how good this one is, it will become a firm favourite in your repertoire as much as it has become one of mine.
This recipe is Raymond Blanc’s and you can find it in his Simple French Cookery book.
Recipe Serves 4-6
For 1 Lemon Tart You’ll Need:
For the sweet pastry
120g unsalted butter at room temperature, diced
75g icing sugar (sifted) plus a little extra for dusting
3 egg yolks
250g plain flour
2 tbsp water
For the lemon cream
5 medium free range eggs
150g caster sugar
85 ml lemon juice
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
150ml double cream
Making the sweet pastry
In a large bowl, with a spatula or wooden spoon, mix the soft butter and icing sugar to a cream; then beat in 2 of the egg yolks.
Add the flour and, with your fingertips, rub the butter mixture and flour together to achieve a crumbly texture. Add the water and press the mixture together to form a ball.
With the palms of your hands, knead the pastry on a lightly floured work surface until it is blended (maximum 30 seconds – do not overwork the pastry or it will be hard and lose its crumbly texture). Flatten the pastry slightly with the palm of your hand, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes (this helps the dough lose its elasticity).
Make the lemon cream.
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest and whisk for a few seconds. Add the cream and whisk it in, then place in the fridge.
Roll out the pastry.
On a lightly floured work surface, evenly roll out the pastry into a circle 3mm thick.
Lining the tart tin.
For this you will need a 9 1/2 inch (24cm) loose-bottomed tart tin. Roll the pastry over the rolling pin and unroll it over the tin. With one hand lift the pastry and with the other gently tuck it into the bottom edge of the tin so that it fits tightly. Be careful not to stretch it. Cut off the excess pastry by rolling the pin over the top edge of the tin. Take a small ball of pastry and gently press it all around the base of the tart to ensure a snug fit. Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork and refridgerate for 30 minutes (this helps prevent shrinkage during cooking). Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 160C/325F Mark 3.
Cooking the pastry.
Line the pastry case with foil/greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans, pushing them against the side. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and lift out. Return the tart tin to the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes. Brush the inside of the pastry with the remaining egg yolk and return to the oven for 1 minute (this creates a seal on the pastry and prevents it becoming soggy when the lemon cream is added). Turn the oven down to 140C/275F Mark 1.
Cooking the lemon tart.
Pour the lemon cream mixture into a saucepan and warm it gently (this is to speed up the cooking time of the tart), being careful not to heat it too much or it will scramble. Pour the warm mixture into the pastry case and bake for 25 minutes, until barely set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 1 hour, then dredge icing sugar over the tart. Remove the tart from the tin and place on a serving plate.