There is a view that the Tarte au Citron is the ultimate measure of a pastry chef’s competence. This is ours. What makes the difference is a pastry case that is properly cooked. Something that is golden and crisp on the base. The texture of the filling is tricky to perfect. We use a technique that warms the mix before pouring into the case. This helps it cook evenly. Poured in cold, the edge has a tendency to overcook before the filling in the centre has set.
- Place the flour and sugar in a food processor and add the cold butter
- Pulse until you have a fine breadcrumb texture. If you don’t have a food processor simply rub the butter into the flour with your hands, the stir through the sugar.
- Add the egg yolk and water and pulse or mix by hand again until the pastry comes together.
- Tip the pastry out onto a bench and kneed briefly until the pastry comes together and is one smooth piece. Press into a circle and wrap in clingfilm. Rest in freezer for 30 minutes or 2 hours in the fridge.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and kneed again briefly to warm it up slightly before rolling it out.
- Line the case or ring. Make sure you have lightly greased and floured the ring or case before lining. Leave an overhang of pastry around the edge of the tart ring or case. This can be neatly trimmed after baking.
- Line the pastry case with 4 layers of cling film and fill with ceramic baking beans.
- Blind bake the 20cm case for 15-17 minutes at 170C until golden brown on the base.
- Patch any holes with left over pastry
- If the tart is to be filled with a liquid filling, it is best to brush the case with beaten egg and bake again for 2 minutes. This seals any small gaps or holes.
- The edge of the pastry case can be trimmed at this point with a fine micro plane grater or small pairing knife.
Lemon Tart Filling
- Place the lemon juice in a pan and reduce by half.
- Mix together the cream and sugar in a bowl and then add the eggs. Whisk until smooth.
- Add the lemon juice. The mix will appear to curdle but keep whisking and all will be well
- Heat the mix up to 60C in a small bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water (bain marie)
- Pour the mix into the blind baked case and bake at 120C until the centre of the tart has reached 70C or about 20 minutes.
- Allow the tart to cool. Dust with icing sugar and blow torch to caramelise.
Sable Pastry (Makes enough for a 20cm tart case or ring)
150g Plain Flour
75g Unsalted Butter (cold)
75g Caster Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
1 Tablespoon Cold Water
Lemon Tart Filling (Makes enough to fill 1x20cm tart case)
150g Lemon Juice
4 Whole Eggs
170g Caster Sugar
140g Double Cream
Tim’s Top Tip
Once baked blind, the pastry case can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Make sure you wrap the tart case in cling film to prevent freezer burn. Stored that way they can be quickly defrosted at room temperature and filled. Simple fillings of a layer of fresh dream or creme patisserie, topped with fresh fruit work brilliantly.