This has been one of my favourite technical challenges to make, as Lemon Tarts (Tarte Au Citrons) are one of my favourite things to eat. It is a great challenge as making the perfect short crust pastry can be difficult, you have to make sure the pastry is chilled enough otherwise the pastry will shrink when it is baked in the oven. Another issue is baking the tart filling because if the oven is too hot or the tart is over baked it can cause the filling to crack on the top of the tart.
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry:
175g Plain Flour
100g Cold Butter (Cut into cubes)
25g Icing Sugar
1 x Egg Yolk
1 Tbsp cold water
5 x Eggs
125ml Double Cream
225g Caster Sugar
4 x Lemons
1 Tbsp Icing Sugar
1. In a large mixing bowl, add the plain flour, icing sugar and butter (cut up into cubes). Rub the butter into the flour and icing sugar until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Next add the egg yolk and cold water and mix. To make this stage easier you can tip out the mixture onto a clean work surface and press together the mixture until a dough forms. Knead the pastry 2-3 times and then slightly flatten the dough. Then wrap the pastry in Clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
3. Remove the pastry from the fridge and place the past onto a work surface dust lightly in flour. Roll the pastry with a rolling pin until it is 3mm thick and is able to cover a 23cm/9in loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin.
4. Careful roll up the pastry around the rolling pin and then unroll the pastry over the tart tin. Then lightly press the pastry into the tin. Prick the base of the pasty with a fork (this will prevent the pastry from rising in the oven) and place the tart on a baking tray. Cover the tart tin loosely with cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Next pre heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
5. While the pastry is chilling, make the lemon filling. In a large mixing bowl add the eggs and mix.
6. Next zest and juice the lemons. Then add the lemon juice, lemon zest and caster sugar. Mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
7. Finally add the double cream and mix again until the double cream has been evenly incorporated into the filling mixture. Transfer the lemon-filling mixer into a jug.
8. Once the pastry has been chilled remove it from the fridge. Scrunch up some baking parchment and place it on the base of the tart tin and fill the base with baking beans or rice. Blind bake the pastry for 10-15 minutes (make sure the pastry doesn’t colour too much).
9. Remove the pastry from the oven and then with a sharp knife carefully trim the excess pastry away, holding the knife at a sharp angle and slicing away from you. Then remove the trimmings from the sheet. Bake the pastry again for 10-12 minutes. Once the pastry becomes lightly golden in colour remove from the oven and leave to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
10. Once the pastry case has cooled it is time to fill the pastry case. To prevent it spilling as it goes in the oven, pour in most of the lemon filling so it almost fills the tart, then pour the remaining filling into the pastry vase when it is in the oven. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until just set but with a slight wobble in the centre. Remove from the oven and leave the tart to cool. Once the