I love a good tart, and lemon tarts are particularly good. We were going to my sister in laws for lunch and we said we’d take dessert.
I had a think and came up with the usual things; chocolate cake, cheese cake, trifle. None of these fit the bill so I thought of doing a lemon tart. I knew my wife would like it and so would our hosts. After a little research I opted for a recipe from one of my favourite chefs – Raymond Blanc. It’s a simple recipe which gives excellent results…as long as you follow it properly.
I got all my ingredients together, got them weighed out and made sure I was properly prepared.
The first thing to do was make the pastry as it needed time to rest in the fridge before rolling. I creamed the butter and icing sugar together and then mixed in 2 of the 3 egg yolks. I then added the flour into this mixture and combined it with my finger tips into breadcrumbs. Next I added the water and formed it into a ball, kneaded it a little, flattened it slightly and then wrapped it in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest.
Next job was to make the lemon custard. First I whisked together the eggs, lemon juice, zest and sugar. After this, I mixed in the cream and then put it in the fridge.
I took the pastry from the fridge and rolled it out until it fit the tart tin I was using. I find that if you take a extra piece of the pastry you can use it to press the pastry into the tin so it properly fits.I made sure to prick the pastry with a fork so that it didn’t raise. At this point I followed the instructions and trimmed the pastry by running the rolling pin. To be honest, I wish I hadn’t. I’ll tell you why in a minute.
Once the pastry was in the tin, I lined it with baking paper and filled it with rice (my choice for blind baking). I baked it in for about 10 minutes at around 160 Celcius. I took the tart case out, remove the rice and put it back in the oven for another 20 minutes to finish baking. At the end of this, I took it out, brushed it with the remaining egg yolk and put it back in the oven for another minute. This helps to seal the pastry and stop the tart having a soggy bottom. I then turned the oven down to 140 Celsius.
It’s at this point I regretted trimming the pastry before baking. Unfortunately the pastry shrunk and pulled away from the edges. If I’d trimmed it afterwards, this wouldn’t have happened.
Once the pastry was baked I set up a Bain Marie and gently heated the lemon custard. This helped to cook it quicker and thicken it slightly. Once warm, I poured it into the pastry case and then put it into the oven for 25 or so minutes until the custard had just a slight wobble. Once it was sufficiently cooked I took it out of the oven and left it to cool in the tin.
We were taking the tart with us as dessert to a family gathering so I left it in the tin until I was ready to serve. I was quite happy with the results. The bottom was a little bit soggy and it was a little on the sweet side. I think it would have benefited from some cream drizzled over when served. I think if I were to make it again I would pay a bit more attention to the temperature of my oven (I managed to cook the tart at 150 instead of 140 so the custard didn’t cook very evenly) and, as I said before, I’d trim the pastry after blind baking it and not before.
This is a great recipe from the legend that is Raymond Blanc, so don’t let my slight failure put you off from attempting it yourself!