This week’s dessert is a french classic, Tarte au Citron. Thin buttery pasty filled with a sweet and tart Lemon filling, this elegant dessert is perfect for an al fresco dinner with friends on a warm summers evening. Here I will guide you through all of the steps to help you produce two professionally finished individual tarts with a simple step by step method. The recipe for the sweet pastry will yield more than you will need for this recipe, so you can freeze any excess for use another time. If you need to double up this recipe, I would recommend doubling the Lemon filling but leave the pastry quantities the same as it will be plenty. This recipe can be used to make one large tart, however be sure to adjust the oven timings accordingly. The pastry will need an extra 5-10 minutes and the lemon filling a further 8-10, just check for a light jiggle in the center.
Ingredients (makes 2-4 tarts dependant on size)
For the Pastry
- 125g Unsalted Butter
- 100g Caster Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 1⁄4 Tsp Salt
- 250g Plain Flour
For the Lemon Tart mix
- 200g Condensed Milk
- 55g Lemon Juice (around 2 Lemons)
- 30g Egg Yolk (roughly 2 yolks)
- Zest of 1 Lemon
- Creme Fraiche and Strawberries to serve
Begin by making the sweet pastry.
In a large bowl combine the sugar and butter. Using a stand mixer (you can do this by hand but will take a lot of effort) beat for five minutes until the butter and sugar are fully combined, light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the egg, beat well and scrape down the bowl.
Once the egg fully incorporated, add half the flour and the salt. Mix gently until just combined.
Add the remaining flour and pulse until mostly combined.
Tip the dough onto a worktop and bring into a ball with your hands. Do not kneed. Flatten down the ball to form a disk.
Wrap the dough tightly in cling film and refrigerate for one hour.
Whilst the dough is chilling we can prepare the Lemon filling.
In a bowl whisk together the Condensed milk, Lemon juice and Zest and Egg yolks. Whisk until fully combined and no streaks of individual ingredients are visible. At this point you may add a small amount of yellow food colouring if desired to add vibrancy to the tart.
Set the tart mix aside in the fridge.
Grease two individual fluted pastry tins liberally with butter. Add a spoon of flour and tap around so that every part is coated with the flour, tip out any excess. Set aside in the fridge.
Divide your dough in two halves, one for each tart.
Lightly flour a work top and place one half of the chilled dough onto it. Allow to rest and come to room temperature for around 15 minutes.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to around 1cm thick, turn the dough after each roll as to prevent it sticking to the work top and to achieve a more circular shape.
Once large enough to line your pastry tin with excess, peel back half of the dough and fold it over a rolling pin, this will make it easier to transfer your dough onto your tin.
Gently place the dough over the tin, and begin to gently ease it into the base and side.
Rip off a small piece of dough from the excess and use this to push the dough into all the crevices of the tin.
Once sufficiently pressed, use your rolling pin to roll across the top of the tin, cutting off all of the excess dough.
You can use this dough again, so wrap it up, it will last in the fridge for around 5 days.
Now gently press around the sides of the tin again using the scrap of pastry, you want the pastry to stand a few milimeters taller than the sides of your tin.
Prick the base of the pastry several times with a fork and place int he fridge to chill for 15 minutes.
Repeat this process with the other half of the dough.
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius.
Take out your pastry from the fridge and line with cling-film. You will need around 3-4 layers of cling-film with lots of excess around the sides.
Fill with baking beans (any dried beans or pulses also work well) right to the top of the tart. Bring in the excess cling-film to meet in the middle, forming a parcel which will be easy to remove later on.
Set the tarts onto a heavy baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. This is called blind baking. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the parcel of baking beans from your pastry. Be careful not to spill any into your pastry case as they can be tricky to remove.
Bake the pastry again for a further 5-6 minutes until the base is a light golden colour and appears not wet.
Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully.
Now you have a baked sweet pastry tart case ready for us to add the Lemon filling.
Turn the oven temperature down to 155 degrees celsius.
Carefully spoon or pipe the Lemon filling into your cooled tart cases until it reaches 1cm from the top as the mix will expand slightly in the oven.
Bake on a baking tray in the center of the oven for 6 minutes. The center should have a slight jiggle to it, do not bake any longer than this as it will become like scrambled egg.
Remove from the oven and cool the tarts fully on a wire rack.
Serve chilled with sweetened creme fraiche and sweet summer Strawberries.