Generally speaking I. Do. Not. Like. Lemon! But these creamy lemon tarts are an exception and full of delicious flavour. Lemon and custard tarts are notorious for being tricky to make – however, these work out every time! This is a Rachel Allen recipe, however Mum and I make 4 smaller tarts rather than one large one. If you aren’t familiar with pastry, that’s absolutely fine – one of the biggest revelations we’ve had is figuring out that pastry can be treated like playdoh once lined in the tin, as the filling is going to cover it. You can make it look like patchwork and no one will ever know! It is important to note that pastry is easier to handle in cooler environments, so if it is a particularly hot day perhaps give this a miss until another day if you’re not confident.
Even though the following recipe states that four 12cm x 2cm tins are being used, you can make six tarts with the same quantities of ingredients. We believe that the tin sizes you will need for six lemon tarts is 8cm x 2cm. The tins must be straight sided! Alternatively, you can make one large tart using a shallow 24cm x 2.5cm tin – click the link here to buy – again the tin must be straight sided.
If you try these, I hope you really enjoy them and they’re not too fiddly to make!
CLASSIC SWEET PASTRY
- 175g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 100g very cold butter, cut into cubes
- 25g white caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 egg white (to set the pastry)
- Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC.
- Four 12cm straight-sided fluted tins with removable bases.
- Food processor (you can make the pastry by hand though if you’d like).
You can make the pastry in either one of two ways. If you’d prefer to make it by hand start by sieving the flour and salt into a bowl, then rub the butter in with your finger tips until it looks like crumbs. Stir in the sugar and mix with a fork. Then, add the egg YOLK a little at a time, stirring it into the mixture with a knife until it starts to come together. If it doesn’t come together, carefully add a little water, a little at a time.
Alternatively, if you’re going to use a food processor, put the flour, salt and butter in the food processor and whiz until combined. Then, add the sugar and mix again. Add the egg a little at a time and whiz, tentatively adding a little water if necessary to bring the pastry all together. Don’t over process.
Once the pastry dough is made, flatten it out into a round, about 2cm thick, and wrap in cling film, placing it in the fridge to cool for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, take the pastry out of the fridge and cut it into four equal pieces. Roll each of the four sections out on a floured surface until thin (not see through, but thin!). Mum and I find that rolling the pastry out between two pieces of floured clingfilm works a treat.
Press the pastry into the base and sides of the tins and trim the top with a knife. Then, press the pastry at the sides again, just to ensure the top of the sides are ever so slightly higher than the top of the tin. This helps to stop the pastry shrinking down the sides of the tin. Refrigerate again for 20 minutes or place them in the freezer for 10 minutes – this cooling process helps to prevent the pastry shrinking in the tins once in the oven.
Blind bake the pastry cases on the very bottom shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes – it must turn golden brown. The pastry base may puff up or bubble a little, but this goes down after a while, and since the filling will eventually cover it, it doesn’t matter! Once you have achieved the colour you desire, take the pastries out of the oven and brush with a little beaten egg WHITE, returning the pastries to the oven for a further 2 to 3 minutes to seal the base – this will prevent the filling from escaping through the bottom when it is being baked later on. Remove the pastries from the oven to cool whilst you make the filling.
- 3 large eggs lightly beaten
- 125g white caster sugar
- 2 large lemons
- 100ml double cream
Turn the oven down to 120ºC.
To start with, you can either place the beaten eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk with an electric hand mixer for 10 minutes, or do so in a food processor (the latter of which is definitely the easier of the two methods!).
Take your two lemons and grate all the zest onto a plate, and squeeze as much juice as possible into a bowl. Once the eggs and sugar have been mixed for 10 minutes, add the lemon juice and zest, mixing for a further 5 minutes. Then, pour in the cream and mix for another 5 minutes. Sometimes a froth may develop which you do not want, so pour the lemon mixture through a sieve into a jug to remove the froth. Remember to retrieve the froth from the sieve and mix it back into the lemon cream.
Right, so this next stage is a little fiddly! Remove all the shelves from the oven, keeping one on the very bottom shelf. Place the pastry in the tins back onto the this bottom shelf, and pour the lemon filling into the pastry cases (almost to the top).
Bake the tarts for about 25 minutes or until the filling has just set – this is tested by very gently shaking the shelf to see whether there is just the slightest wobble in the centre. When the filling has set, remove the tarts from the oven and set to one side. Do not be tempted to touch them until they are absolutely cold, otherwise they will more than likely break!
We personally have found that these tarts are at their best when chilled in the fridge, but it’s up to you how you wish to serve them! Enjoy!