Tarte au citron

Classic tart – my pastry quantity for this recipe is very small because the thinnest of crusts is essential then the smoothest, creamiest lemon filling makes for the perfect bake. Master this one and you have a friend for life !

Preparation

To make the pastry: Place the flour, icing sugar and salt and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor with the blade attached and blitz briefly to combine.  Add the butter and blitz for a few seconds until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  With the motor running pour in the liquid in a steady stream and wait until the mixture forms a ball of dough.  Take from the machine, place in greaseproof paper and chill for half an hour.

NB You will use only half of this pastry so cut into two. Freeze one half for later.

Whilst the pastry is chilling make the filling. Sift the icing sugar into a roomy bowl then add the eggs.  Beat together then whisk to disperse any lumps.  Add the double cream and the lemon zest and juice.  Stir well then leave to stand and infuse.

Take the pastry from the fridge and roll out one half. I roll out between two pieces of plastic (which I re-use) – peel off one sheet then, pastry side down fit the pastry into the prepared baking tin.  Pop into the fridge for about 10 minutes to firm up then pull off the second sheet of plastic.

Pop back into the fridge until the oven comes to temperature. Heat the oven to 190 degrees c(fan)

Take the pastry case from the fridge and line with paper and baking beans. I like to put the lightest smear of fat on the piece of paper which will touch the pastry just to make sure the paper doesn’t adhere to the pastry.  Bake blind for 12 minutes – remove from the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 140 degrees c (fan)

Carefully remove the paper and beans then trim the edges of the case so that the pastry is level with the tin. If any crumbs drop into the pastry shell brush them up with a pastry brush and spoon (a sort of dust pan and brush !)

You can skip the next stage if you wish but I prefer a silky smooth filling so before filling the pastry case I pass the lemon cream through a sieve to remove any jelly pieces of egg, large lemon zests and bubbles ! Sieving into a jug also makes it easier to fill the case.

Place the oven shelf to the bottom runner of the oven then place the pastry shell on the shelf.

Pour the filling into the case whilst it is in the oven thereby avoiding any spills. Fill as full as you can then bake for 25-30 minutes until the custard has set but still has the slightest wobble in the centre.  Ovens do vary but this tart should not colour or bubble up whilst baking – if you start to see that happening turn the oven down a further 10 degrees and open the door slightly for a minute.  If your custard cracks during cooling then it is overbaked and may be rubbery in texture.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature.

Serve either as it is, with fruit, a drizzle of cream or you can glaze by dusting over icing sugar and glazing with a blow torch.


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