A few weeks ago, Mr M and I had both sets of our parents over for dinner. I decided that a lemon tart would be a perfect, no-fuss dessert. However I have never actually made one before, so I went through my recipe books and found a great recipe in ‘I know how to cook’ by Ginette Mathiot, the French household ‘must have’ cookbook. The book actually contained 2 recipes for Tarte au Citron, one version of which was from chef François Payard of Payard Pâtisserie and Bistro in New York. Of his recipe, Payard explained that while some chefs are afraid of tartness, when people want a lemon tart they don’t want to eat a bowl of sugar, they want to taste the lemon. I was immediately sold.
This recipe is incredibly simple and easy. In my search for a lemon tart recipe I came upon a recipe in another book that involved significantly more steps and 10 times (yes, 10 times!) the amount of butter. Now, obviously a dessert is usually going to be calorific, but honestly, if the dessert still tastes good and has significantly less fat, that has to be a good thing.
So how was it? It was good. Very, very good. As Payard said, this is a tart in which you can taste the lemon. It has a definite edge of tartness and is not too sweet. It was absolutely gorgeous with a big dollop of La Latteria cream on the side.
You should absolutely have a go at making this delicious tart. The most laborious element is making the tart pastry and you can always skip the steps below and just make it in the food processor (see step by step instructions here). This recipe is definitely going into my ‘hall of fame’ – it is that good!
Adapted from a recipe by François Payard in ‘I know how to cook’ by Ginette Mathiot
For the pastry:
250g flour (or 300g if using spelt flour)
30g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
150g butter, softened
1 tsp salt
- Put the flour in a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the sugar, egg yolk, butter and salt. Mix together.
- Add just enough water (about 3 tablespoons) to bind the pastry together, then turn out onto the bench and knead lightly.
- Shape the pastry in a ball, cover with clingfilm and let the pastry rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Pre-heat oven to 190C.
- Roll out the pastry to 5mm thick and line the tart tin (I used a 25cm round tin).
- Line with greaseproof paper, add pastry weights and bake for 1o minutes.
- Remove weights and cook for a further 15 minutes until golden in colour and cooked throughout.
For the tart:
4 unwaxed lemons
3 large eggs
40g butter, cut into 1cm pieces
A pastry case, baked blind
- Preheat the oven to 160C.
- Zest and juice the lemons.
- Whisk the lemon zest and juice in a heat proof bowl and whisk in the eggs. Add the sugar and butter and place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water (make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl).
- Keep whisking until the butter has completely melted (a couple of minutes).
- Remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Pour the filling into the pre-baked pastry shell and bake for 8-10 minutes. The filling should be just set.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Garnish with slices of lemon and serve with plenty of double cream on the side.