Lemon Tart – an ideal afternoon treat. Perfect for the summer, out on the balcony in the sun with a glass of white wine. The zesty curd adds a sharp sweetness which can tempt most palates, lovingly balanced over a crumbly short crust pastry (homemade of course). It is by far one of my favourite desserts yet my biggest query is: how do bakeries get them to look so nice?
I have made several lemon tarts during my baking time, and even though they have tasted as they should, they have never looked that great. It has recently been bothering me quite a bit, so I decided to find a way of improving my hideous tarts. My first thought was fruit, perhaps some nice berries, however this did not seem quite enough. After digging a bit deeper in my brain, I decided to put jam on top instead – that way, it looks lovely and has complimenting flavours. The choice came down to raspberry or blueberry jam (my two favourite berries), and I ended up going with raspberry purely due to the colour. I had a hunt around online and saw a beautiful lemon and raspberry tart by Gourmande in the Kitchen with a white chocolate drizzle which I decided to take as my inspiration.
The recipe below is adapted from a lemon tart recipe by Angela Hartnett, which was a bit tricky (as tarts tend to be), but it was definitely worth the time and effort.
220g plain flour (sifted) plus extra for dusting
135g butter (cold and cubed)
65g icing sugar (sifted)
2 medium eggs (lightly beaten)
Pinch of salt
4 medium eggs (lightly beaten)
200g caster sugar
125ml whipping cream
Zest and juice of 4 – 5 lemons (about 100ml)
300g raspberry or blueberry jam
100g white or milk chocolate
Place the flour, icing sugar, salt and butter in a bowl. Roll up your sleeves and rub the ingredients together until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs (takes about 5 minutes). Add 1 of the eggs to the mix and use your hands to pull it together into a dough – gathering in all of the small pieces. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least an hour (or you can leave it overnight if you wish to make the next day). Take the dough out of the fridge and leave to rest for a few minutes. Lightly grease a loose-bottomed tart tin, then remove the base and lightly dust with flour. Place the dough on top of the base, and roll out until it is about 2mm thick and bigger than the base (to cover the sides of the tart tin). Gently fold over the edges of the dough into the middle of the base.
Lift the base, place it in the tin and gently unfold the edges, pushing them into the side of the tin. Leave the edges higher than the tin as the pastry case will shrink slightly in the oven. Prick the dough all over with a fork and place back in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Take the pastry base out of the fridge, cover it in parchment paper and fill with baking beans or rice. My way to do this is to take a large piece of parchment paper, screw it up and then unravel it so that it fits the circle shape better. Blind bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, remove the parchment paper and beans, and bake for a further 5 – 10 minutes until the pastry starts to go golden (however keep a close eye on it so that it does not burn). Once ready take out of the oven and using a knife, gently cut off the excess crust (holding the knife away from you). Brush the pastry all over with some of the remaining egg and place back in the oven for 2 minutes. Remove, egg wash again and place back into the oven for a further 2 minutes. This seals the pastry – I have never done it before but would highly recommend it. Once done, leave to cool on the side and lower the oven to 110C.
Place the eggs and caster sugar in a bowl and whisk together until the mixture has gone pale (and all of the sugar has dissolved). Add the cream, lemon juice and zest and mix together until combined. To fill the tart, pour the lemon mixture into a jug. Pull the middle shelf out of the oven, place the pastry case on it and then pour the lemon mixture into the case until it is just full. This helps to prevent spilling the mixture whilst transferring the tart to the oven. Carefully push the shelf back into the oven and close the door. Bake for around 45 – 50 minutes; my oven is a bit temperamental therefore I had to increase it to 140C for a further 15 minutes before it was done. The tart will be ready when the filling is set but still slightly wobbly. Take out of the oven and leave to cool completely.
This is the part when I always think “this tart looks ugly” – but in comes the jam to save it all! Put the jam in a small saucepan and gently heat it until it loosens up. Gently spoon onto the tart and use a spatula to spread it evenly around.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave (short burst so that you do not melt it), pour into a piping bag and decorate the top.