It is often said that the mark of a good pâtisserie or restaurant is the quality of its lemon tart – a deceptively simple recipe – and I would agree. Although the basic recipe is fairly straightforward – a lemon custard baked in a sweet pastry shell – making a perfect example with the right textures and flavours is the sign of a great pastry chef.
My version isn’t a classic baked tart but a slightly more modern and easier take on the classic, using a lemon cream.
Makes enough for 2 large tarts (keep half for another recipe!)
– 1 vanilla pod or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
– 400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
– 35g ground almonds
– 75g icing sugar
– pinch of salt
– 250g unsalted butter, diced and chilled
– 2 large egg yolks
– approx. 1 tablespoon ice-cold water
chilled flour, for dusting
For the lemon cream
– 150ml lemon juice
– 2 large eggs
– 2 large egg yolks
– 150g caster sugar
– 225g unsalted butter, diced and chilled
For the decoration
– icing sugar
– a few pistachio nuts, finely chopped (optional)
For the Pastry
1. Cut the vanilla pod, if using, in half and scrape out the seeds. Put the seeds or vanilla bean paste in the bowl of a food processor.
2. Add the flour, almonds, icing sugar and salt, and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and pulse until fully combined. (Alternatively, put the flour, almonds, icing sugar, salt and vanilla in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the butter and rub together using your fingertips, or use a pastry cutter, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and mix together until the dough just starts to come together.)
3. If the pastry isn’t coming together into a uniform mass, add 1 tablespoon of ice-cold water and pulse, or mix, until the dough starts to come together. Be careful not to over-process the dough, or the finished pastry will be tough and chewy.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead into a smooth, uniform dough. Divide into two pieces, pressing into a flat round if making large tarts and into thick logs if making individual tarts. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour before using.
For the filling
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven)/gas 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface until it is about 2–3mm thick. Use this to line a 23cm tart ring or loose-based tart tin set onto your prepared baking tray. Trim off the excess pastry and put the tart in the fridge for 30 minutes or until firm.
2. Line the tart shell with a layer of baking parchment and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake for 25 minutes then remove the parchment and the beans and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before assembling.
3. To make the lemon cream, put the lemon juice, eggs, yolks and sugar in a large pan over a medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly, until it reaches 75–80°C on an instant-read thermometer. (If you are worried about curdling the mixture you can cook this in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, but it will take longer.)
4. Pour the lemon mixture through a fine sieve into a medium bowl and leave to cool for 15 minutes or until lukewarm. Add the butter a few pieces at a time and, using a hand blender, process until smooth. Press a piece of clingfilm onto the surface of the cream and put it in the fridge for a few hours, or preferably overnight, until completely set.
5. Once the cream has set, stir lightly to loosen, then spread it onto the base of the tart, smoothing it into an even layer. Put the tart into the fridge and leave to chill for 2 hours before serving.
6. To decorate, put a little icing sugar in a sieve and use to dust over the edge of the tart, then sprinkle the pistachio nuts around the outside of the tart.
– This tart will keep for up to three days in the fridge.
Most of us have been wowed looking through the windows of a patisserie and sampling the delights therein. Now Edd Kimber shows you how to recreate these recipes at home.
With step-by-step photographs for basic pastry and icings, Edd guides you through the techniques, taking the fear out of a genoise sponge and simplifying a croissant dough.
Taken from Patisserie Made Simple by Edd Kimber. Published by Kyle Books. Photography by Laura Edwards.