We’re deep in the middle of winter here in Australia and while that means getting out of bed in the morning is super difficult, the cold weather is producing some beautiful lemons on my mum’s lemon tree! Apart from making some hot lemon tea to enjoy, I thought this the perfect opportunity to make a tarte au citron, also known as a lemon tart in English.
I love eating lemons as they are. While the initial hit of lemon juice on your tongue can be quite sour, I find it’s all very refreshing and and delicious after that, which is why I enjoy lemon juice on its own. But I know it’s not for everyone.
While this tart is a dessert, the taste of lemon in this tart is quite strong, so this dessert is for the brave and the daring! But there’s no point in making a lemon tart if it’s not full of lemon flavour! I do think the sweet pastry and the incorporation of sugar, cream and eggs does make the lemon punch a little more gentle, but I love this dessert because it’s not cloyingly sweet.
Making this dessert is not difficult at all. The first thing you need to do is make a sweet pastry crust, une pâte sucrée. There are a few methods out there on how to go about making one, and how to get it ready for filling. But when it comes to something so important, there is one baker I absolutely trust to give me the most straight forward but still excellent results: Stephanie Jaworski from Joy of Baking! If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll see that I am a big fan of Stephanie’s recipes and her methods of making delicious baked treats.
For my lemon tart, I used her recipe in making my sweet pastry crust. Watch her video below!
You might be surprised to find that there’s no need for you to use any weights or beads when blind baking this pastry- as demonstrated by Ms Jaworski in her video, all you need to do is make sure you place the pastry in the freezer (or fridge for a longer amount of time) again after you’ve moulded all the pastry into the pan.
The only thing I do differently to her recipe is the ferocity in which I prick the bottom of my pastry before I put it into the freezer to chill. I’ve tried gently pricking the base of my pastry shells before (without going right through to the other side) and I find every time I just do that the pastry base swells like a balloon in places. So I prick the bottom numerously and right through:
The recipe for my lemon tart filling comes from my recipe book “The Food of France: A Journey for Food Lovers“. My tart pan was a little smaller than the 23cm pan the recipe called for, so I had some filling left over. So I decided to heat the remaining filling up over slow heat until it began to bubble and then transferred it to a jar to cool. Guess what I had after it cooled? A lemon jam all ready for biscuits and bread spreading!! 🙂 While the recipe just lists the cream to be double/heavy cream, from past experience I find heavy cream specifically for cooking to yield a thicker filling, which is what I’m after.
I baked my tart between 35-40 minutes and I was very satisfied with the results:
I did seal my pastry with some egg white and I do think it prevented the pastry from turning soggy. You can also brush the pastry with a strained jam glaze. The pastry was subtly sweet and held up beautifully, only crumbling in my mouth as I sampled it with the lemon filling. When you take out your tart, you can test whether the tart is done by how much your tart jiggles. If you see the centre of the tart jiggle as you shake the pan slightly, then your tart is done. If the centre still looks watery, pop your tart back into the oven for another 3-5 minutes.
Try to resist digging into this tangy dessert until it is completely cooled! I mean, you could take a fork to this dessert right after it has come out of the oven, but you might find yourself with a few burnt tastebuds and the filling not firm enough once cut away from the rest of the tart.
Please let me know if you decide to try out making this lemon tart! I’d love to know how to went and if you’ve got any questions about making this, then please leave me a comment below or shoot me an email! Always happy to help 🙂
Tarte au Citron
For the sweet pastry
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the filling
- 4 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 285g (1 1/4 cups) caster sugar
- 185ml (3/4 cup thick double/heavy cooking cream)
- 3/4 to 1 cup lemon juice – depending on how much tangy you want your filling to be
- finely grated zest of 3 lemons
- TO MAKE THE TART SHELL whisk the flour with the salt in a bowl. In another bowl, place the butter in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, and beat until softened and creamy. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg, beating just until incorporated.
- Add the flour mixture all at once and mix. Form the mixture into a ball with your hands, before flattening the pastry into a disc. Don’t stress if the disc starts to crack. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or just until firm (can place in freezer for about 10-15 minutes.)
- Lightly butter and flour, or spray with a non-stick vegetable/flour cooking spray, an 8 – 9 inch (20 – 23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Once the pastry has chilled sufficiently, evenly pat onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place the tart in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 205 degrees C/400 degrees F and place rack in centre of oven. Generously prick the bottom of pastry crust with the tines of a fork, as this will prevent the base puffing up while it bakes. Bake the crust for 5 minutes at 205C before reducing the heat to 180C/350F. Bake until the crust begins to turn lightly golden brown around the edges.
- Remove baked shell from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. You may seal the crust with an egg white glaze or strained jam glaze (approx. 60ml heated and strained jam) of your choice to prevent the crust from turning soggy while the pastry is cooling but still warm.
- TO MAKE THE FILLING, preheat your oven to 150C/ 300F. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and sugar until well combined. Add the cream, whisking all the time before adding in the lemon juice and zest.
- Carefully pour your filling into your cooled (or slightly warm) tart shell and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the filling has set. To test, gently jiggle the tart pan- if the centre of the tart jiggles slightly, the tart is done. If the centre is still watery, return tart to the oven for another 3-5 minutes.
- Allow the tart to completely cool before serving. Enjoy!