Tarte au citron
Whenever Danielle and I are trying to choose a dessert to buy from the shops, a lemon tart is always one of the first things that I suggest. I think it's a combination of the sweet, crisp pastry case, and the rich, tangy filling that makes it a winning pud. The pastry is made with icing sugar which I believe gives a smoother dough than caster. If you like your tart very citrusy then you can add 2 more lemons to the mix.
250g plain flour, sieved
125g butter, softed
95g icing sugar, sifted
1 whole egg & 1 egg yolk, beaten together
1 extra egg, beaten separately
Small pinch of salt
10 whole eggs
310g caster sugar
280ml double cream
Zest and juice of 6 lemons, kept separate
Cream the butter and sugar together until they form a soft paste. Slowly add the egg to the butter & sugar mixture, beating together. Add the flour and sugar, and softly mix into the butter. Try not to overwork the dough, otherwise it will become too crumbly when baked.
Use your hands to bind the dough into one smooth ball. If the dough is a little dry then add a splash of cold water. If the dough is too wet then add a little bit of flour. Flatten slightly and cling film. Leave the pastry to rest in the fridge for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, until it becomes slightly firmer.
Roll the pastry out onto a floured surface, until it’s wide enough to cover the bottom and sides of a tart ring. If it’s too thick then the pastry won’t cook evenly, and if it’s too thin, then the pastry will break as you try to put it into the tart case. Place a non stick, loose bottomed tart ring on a baking tray with silicone paper underneath. If your ring isn’t non stick then lightly grease it with some softened butter. Roll the pastry onto your rolling pin, which makes it easier to transport, and then unravel over the tart case. Softly press the pastry into the corners of the tin, leaving some overlapping the edges to allow for shrinkage. If any of the pastry rips, then use some of the excess to patch it back up. A wetted fingertip rubbed over the patch should combine the two pastries. Put the baking tray with the pastry on into the fridge to cool for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 175c. Place a double layer of cling film, if it’s industrial strength, or some baking paper, onto the pastry, and pour in an even layer of baking beads. If you don't have baking beads then rice, dried beans or lentils will work. Blind bake for approximately 15-20 minutes. Take the cling film/paper and beads out. Lightly dock the bottom of the pastry with a fork (lightly press the fork all over the base of the pastry, not pressing too hard and creating big holes) and finish cooking for approximately 10 minutes, until golden and crisp. The docking will help to dry out the base and stop the pastry from puffing. Just before removing from the oven, brush a thin layer of the extra beaten egg over the base of the pastry and put back in the oven for 1 minute. This will seal up the docked holes so that the filling doesn't seep through. Leave to cool.
Turn the oven down to 110c.
For the filling, whisk together the eggs, cream and sugar until combined. Add the lemon and pass through a fine sieve into a medium sized saucepan. Then add the zest. Gently warm the filling over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, gently stirring. You want the mixture warm, but too hot and it will scramble. This little trick of warming the mixture means you can bake for less time, and the delicate pastry is less likely to break.
Skim off any white bubbles on the top of the mix. Pour approximately ⅔ of the filling into the case. Transport the tart to the shelf in the oven and then add the rest of the mix. This avoids spillages. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until it is just set. It should still have a little wobble as it will set as it cools. If you don’t want to risk pre warming the mix, then put into the blind baked tart case cold and bake for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Leave to cool, trim off the extra pastry with a serrated knife and serve cold. Dust with icing sugar and glaze with a blow torch or under a hot grill if desired.