Tarte au citron
Sometimes it is nice for a change to have a desert which is not rich tasting or made of chocolate. So what better alternative to mix things up a bit than the fresh, citrus flavors of a lemon tart or ‘tarte au citron’. There are two simple parts, the pastry and the lemon filling. Once you have mastered the pastry, you will discover you can create an endless list of other delicious pies!
I really enjoy making this recipe in the summer months when lemons are at their most ripe and fresh, and the sun is shining outside. Served with fresh single cream and a few berries such as raspberries, can really complement the tartness of the pie and add a hint of sweetness at the same time. If you enjoy baking already, or simply don’t know where to start in the kitchen, then why not give this recipe a go and see how you get on!
Let’s get started with the ingredients needed to make this tasty lemon tart...
For the pastry:
- 200g/7oz plain flour
- 100g/3½oz cold butter, cubed
- 50g (1¼oz) caster sugar (or 2 tbsp icing sugar)
- 1 egg yolk (free range)
- A few drops of water
- A few drops of vanilla extract
For the lemon filling:
- 4 large eggs
- 200g/7oz caster sugar
- 150ml/5 fl oz (1/4 pint) double cream
- 3 lemons, juice and zest
- 1 tbsp icing sugar and some more for dusting
Preparation Tips to Consider:
*Before you start and things get messy, use some baking parchment and a pencil to draw around your upturned pastry tin, and leave a border roughly resembling the depth of the sides of the tin. Cut this circle out and put it to the side. You will need it to line the tin. But don’t worry if you don’t have any baking paper/parchment because cling film will also do the job.
*Also, it helps to have a pastry tin with a removable bottom panel to remove the tart afterwards, but you need to make sure that there are no cracks in your pastry base if you use this type of tin. As otherwise, you may get lemon filling leaking out from the bottom of it. If you are at all worried about this, then use a normal solid based pastry tin. (One with fluted edges will give the tart a lovely aesthetically pleasing appearance too).
Steps for the Pastry:
- Start by mixing the dry ingredients of flour, butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. You can use your hands or a food processor if you have one available. Once the mixture has come together and resembles breadcrumbs, add the egg yolk, water and vanilla extract.
- Kneed the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to make sure all the ingredients have blended together. Then use a rolling pin to flatten out the mixture. (Before you place the pastry in your pastry tin, rub some butter on the insides and bottom of the tin as this can help stop the tart sticking when you come to remove it). Using your fingers, push the pastry up to the edges of the tin and make sure you cover and fill any cracks that may appear. Set it aside or in the fridge, and let it chill for 15 minutes. Now you can preheat the oven to around 180C/350F/Gas 4.
- Using a fork, lightly prick the surface of the base of the pastry as this will help stop the pastry from rising upwards. Retrieve the baking paper circle that you cut out earlier (or the cling film), and place it in the pastry tin. Fill with the baking beans (or rice, if you do not have baking beans), and bake this for 15 minutes to set the pastry. Take it out the oven and carefully remove the baking beans and baking parchment/cling film. Reduce the temperature slightly and bake the pastry case in the oven for a further 10 minutes until it is golden in color. Set aside and allow the pastry to completely chill.
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Steps for the Lemon Filling:
- Mix the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and zest and icing sugar together in a large mixing bowl and then mix with the double cream. Make sure everything is blended and you can use a hand whisk or electric whisk if you have one.
- Simply fill the pastry case with the lemon mixture but do not fill all the way to the top! Slowly carry it over to the oven and place on the shelf, and then fill in the remainder of the lemon filling. Otherwise, carrying it across the kitchen could cause spills!
- Bake for 30-35 minutes at around 180C/350F/Gas 4. You should see that the mixture is set, but that it has a slight ‘wobble’ in the center. Allow to completely cool. Lightly dust with icing sugar or even place some berries on top to serve. You can be as creative with the decorations as you like!
There we go! You have made a lemon tart or ‘tarte au citron’ if you prefer. Serve with fresh berries of your choice and chilled single cream. The pastry should be crumby and flaky, melting in the mouth. The fresh lemon filling should be set (thanks mainly to the eggs), and the sweetness of the vanilla extract should lightly punctuate the flavor of the sweet lemon filling.
So cut yourself off a slice and enjoy the fresh citrus flavors and the soft, crumbly pastry...
This recipe does not have to be limited to the warmer, summer months. Equally, in the depths of winter, it could provide you with a refreshing palette cleanser from all the heavy and rich foods we all indulge in at that time of year.
I really hope you enjoy making this recipe and remember you can vary the filling. Why not replace those lemons with oranges or limes and see how that tastes, experiment and be creative!
(The actual completed Lemon Tart images in this article are all the authors own)
Finally, take a look below at You Tuber Morgan McDonald with the channel ‘Recipe Corner’, as she takes you through a slightly different lemon tart recipe. Not only does Morgan show you how to do a recipe using a blender, she also offers great tips for baking the pastry really well too.