Whole Lemon Tart

What will I do now Great British Bake Off 2014 is over? No longer can I plonk myself in front of a screen every Wednesday evening, mesmerised by an alterate reality dusted with flour and icing sugar. Of course, I carry on baking.

I really was gunning for Nancy in the final, so I’m so pleased that she won. Of course Richard wowed consistently throughout the series, and Luis’ creations were stunning, but it’s so lovely to actually have an grandmother baking tasty treats for her children and grandkids winning the show. I also enjoyed the fact that the technical challenge reintroduced the basics again. I would love it if all the contestants were pitted against one another on the simplest of recipes, to really challenge them against one another. There’s nowhere to hide with them, after all!

Now in the Great British Bake Off final, the contestants were tasked with making a so-called simple tart au citron. I had a lot of pastry ends to use up, so I thought I’d give it a go. I’ve never made a tart au citron before, so it was a bit of a new adventure!

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Well, this tarte au citron was kinda different from Mary Berry’s version. I used the recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets. This recipe involves blitzing an entire lemon into a purée, and enfolding it into a mixture of sugar, eggs, butter and a little cornflour.

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It looks very different from the versions I’ve been used to seeing! The pastry case encloses a bubbly sticky lemon filling that’s like chewy toffees in texture. You only need a thin sliver – it’s rich stuff. The pastry looks very dark in the photos but I promise it isn’t burnt.

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I looked online afterwards to see that a lot of people had problems with this lemon tart recipe. Issues included the filling not setting, being too sweet, too sour, cooking too fast, spilling over and separating out so the butter ended up floating on top. Hmmm, unappealling.

My lemon had a thick layer of white pith, so I followed the advice online and cut some of this away, making up the weight with a small piece of a second lemon. This seemed to work pretty well. Would I make this tart again? I’m not completely sure. I think Dorie Greenspan’s recipe needs a few alterations to make it workable in my kitchen. Here’s my version below.

Whole Lemon Tart

Adapted from Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan

  • shortcrust pastry
  • 130g lemon
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 yolk
  • 1 heaped tbsp cornflour
  • 115g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Line a 24cm tart case with shortcrust pastry and pop into the fridge to chill. Prick the base with a fork, then bake in the oven for 15 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 160˚C.

Cut the lemon(s) into thin slices, removing the seeds. If there is a lot of white pith, remove half of this. Blitz the lemon in a blender with the sugar until puréed. Then pour into a bowl and whisk lightly with the eggs and cornflour. Slowly pour in the melted cooled butter and whisk into combine.

Pour the lemon filling into the tart case, making sure you leave a lip of pastry around the edge to allow for the filling bubbling up when it is cooking. Pop the tart into the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until bubbling and slightly browned. Leave to cool to room temperature before slicing and eating.

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