With a beautiful buttery, flaky pastry and rich citrussy filling, this lemon tart is going to become your go-to dessert for entertaining.
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Place the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and vanilla and process until dough just comes together. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 mins to chill.
Roll pastry out on a well-floured surface to a 28cm disc. Gently transfer into the base of 24cm (base measurement) fluted tart tin with removable base. Use a small knife to trim edges. Place on a baking tray and place in the freezer for 30 mins to chill. Preheat oven to 180°C.
Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking weights. Bake for 15 mins. Cover edges with foil if needed, to prevent browning too much. Remove weights, bake a further 10-15 mins. Reduce heat to 120°C.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl and whisk together until aromatic. Transfer to a medium saucepan with 2/3 cup (160ml) of lemon juice and cream. Bring just to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.
Whisk eggs and salt in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in hot cream mixture until just combined. Slowly pour into hot tart shell. Bake for 25-30 mins or until edges are just set and the centre jiggles slightly. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm to touch. Top with raspberries and dust with sifted icing sugar mixture.
Go pretty much anywhere in the world today and you’ll find a version of a lemon tart, and for good reason: they’re sweet, sour, tangy and zesty all at once. The original lemon tart – the tarte au citron – was invented by the French and consists of a flaky pastry and lemon-flavoured custard filling. In some recipes for a lemon tart, the custard is made on the stovetop and poured into the case to be served as is. In the traditional version – like our lemon tart recipe – the custard is made on the stovetop and then baked into the pastry. Yes, our method – the French way – takes a little longer but the result is a creamy, custardy filling that sings with fresh flavours. As with most French recipes, there are a few hints and tips that will help you get it right, so read on to find out how to make a delicious baked lemon tart.
To know how to make a lemon tart is to know how to make each of the basic elements: the pastry and the filling. This pastry recipe is for a sweet homemade shortcrust pastry (knowing how to make a savoury shortcrust pastry comes in handy for savoury pies, too). The end result should be slightly sweet and flaky without being crumbly. Sounds easy to achieve, right? Well, it is, with these tips. Make sure your butter is chilled. Cold butter helps the pastry become flaky. If the butter is too soft, the pastry may end up soggy. This is also why you chill the dough in the fridge before rolling it out. Next, don’t overhandle the dough. Overhandling does two things – it heats up the ingredients (which we know stops the pastry being flaky) and it can make your pastry tough. As with all good lemon tart recipes, we’re aiming for light-as-air pastry here. That means minimal handling.
To stop the pastry drying out or cracking as you roll it, lightly flour the work surface and rolling pin to stop the pastry sticking. Use the rolling pin to gently push down on the dough ball to make it easier to roll. This also distributes the butter evenly throughout the dough, which again equals flaky pastry. Now, here’s the tip: only roll in one direction. Start in the centre and roll to the edge, turning the dough as you work it. This gentle treatment stops the pastry being overstretched, which may cause it to shrink while baking.
We’ve all been there – your pastry is the perfect thickness and size, you try to pick it up to cover the pan and it breaks. Here’s an easier way to transfer it: Place your rolling pin on the edge of the pastry. Gently pick up the pastry edge and roll it over the rolling pin. Continue rolling the pin and picking up the pastry as you go. Once the majority of the pastry is rolled onto the pin, unroll it over the top of your cake tin. Make sure you’re using a tart tin with a removable base to help lift the cooked tart out easily at the end. Our basic lemon tart recipe makes one big tart but you can also make mini lemon tarts.
Quick answer: yes. Do not skip this step. Blind baking lightly cooks the pastry and stops it going soggy once the lemon tart filling is added. To stop the pastry puffing up as it cooks, line it with baking paper and fill with baking weights. Now not everyone has baking weights, so remember uncooked rice or dried beans will also work.
Our recipe calls for the juice of 6 fresh lemons. To make sure you’re getting a good amount of juice from your lemons, choose fruit that feels heavy for its size and yields slightly with gentle pressure. Just before you cut and juice the lemons, roll the fruit along the bench under your palm, exerting some pressure. This softens some of the membranes and bursts some of the juice sacs so you'll get more juice.
The main thing to know here is when to have your mix on the stovetop and when to take it off. Combine the sugar, lemon and cream on the stovetop until dissolved and heated through. Now take it off the heat before you mix in the egg and salt. If you add the egg while the mix is on the heat, it may actually start to cook and no one wants pieces of cooked egg in their homemade lemon tart. Once combined the rest of the cooking happens in a very slow oven – as with everything in this recipe, gently does it.
We think the key here is simplicity – a couple of slices of candied lemon to garnish, a dusting of icing sugar or a pile of fresh berries. If you want to get really fancy with your lemon tart decoration, try a cream and a berry compote on top. Just be careful when decorating a lemon tart that you only add wet toppings right before serving – anything wet will start to dissolve the custard filling if left too long.