LEMON TART

A perfect lemon tart recipe can be a thing of true beauty, balancing sweetness with tartness and the intense aroma of quality lemons. Every cook should have a lemon tart in their repertoire and this one has been with me for a good number of years, appearing on my menu several times – a classic that I always return to. Trust me, if you nail this, you will never have to change the recipe as it is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

I often find the simplest recipes are the most enjoyable to eat as the key ingredients are allowed to shine through without getting lost on the plate – an approach we often taken when developing new dishes at Midsummer House. The key to a perfecting a lemon tart is to get each element right. What you’re after is a melt-in-the-mouth pastry case, rolled thin and baked until crisp and dark golden brown. Getting the filling right is equally important. It needs to be tangy and tart, with a smooth silky texture. It’s all about balancing sweetness with sourness and eggs to cream. Buying the best quality eggs available is a worthy investment for the beautiful golden colour the yolks will bring to the custard.

I’ve often debated with friends and other chefs about how best to garnish it and decided that if a lemon tart is made correctly, then it really doesn’t need much of an accompaniment – it can speak for itself. The raspberry gel is there just to add a touch of sweetness and bring the beautiful perfume that summer raspberries are renowned for.

My advice would be to make sure you eat it on the day it’s made to fully appreciate it. My guess is there’ll be no leftovers anyway. This lemon tart recipe makes for a refreshing and aromatic end to a dinner party, or why not serve with a cup of coffee for a mid-afternoon treat?

Serves 12

Pastry

Ingredients:

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 200g soft butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 500g flour
  • pinch of salt

Method:

Mix both types of sugar with the butter, and then add the yolks and whole eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Fold in the flour and salt then mix until smooth and combined. Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour. Remove the pastry from the fridge 15 minutes before rolling out to 1mm thick. Lay the pastry in a tart ring and gently push into the edges all the way around. A quick tip for this stage is to use any off-cuts of the pastry, well-floured, as this will help to prevent any tearing that can sometimes occur when using your fingers. Cover with a triple layer of cling film and cover the base with baking beans. Blind bake in the oven at 160°C for about 30 minutes and then remove the baking beans and place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. When lightly golden, remove the pastry case from the oven and leave to cool in the ring.

Lemon Filling

Ingredients:

  • 500ml double cream
  • 380g sugar
  • 10 free-range eggs
  • 8 lemons, juiced and zested

Method:

Place the double cream and sugar in a pan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil and then pour slowly over the eggs, whisking constantly so the eggs don’t scramble.  Add the lemon juice and zest, stir well and then pour the filling into the pastry case. Bake at 90°C for about 45 minutes until set and then cool naturally.

Raspberry gel

Ingredients:

  • 400g raspberry purée
  • 5g agar (if you cannot find this replace with the same weight of gelatin)
  • 1g citric acid (most supermarkets will have this but if you cannot locate use a small squeeze of lemon in its place)

Method:

Bring the purée, agar and citric acid to the boil. Transfer into a container and allow to cool. When fully set, blend the gel in a blender and pass through a fine sieve. Store in a squeezy bottle until needed.

To Serve:

These finishing touches will elevate this dish from a really good lemon tart to something truly special and memorable adding different textures and flavours. Portion the tart and sprinkle each slice with the caster sugar. Serve each slice of tart with a generous squeeze of the raspberry gel to provide a perfect balance of flavours. 

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