EASY LEMON TART INSPIRED BY PIP MCCORMAC
One of Pip's Desert Island Dishes was Theo Randall's lemon tart. Now straight off the bat I have to tell you this is not that. How could I compete? The way Pip spoke of lemon tarts made me think he had tried his fair share and for him to settle so specifically on Mr Randall's tart au citron made me instantly aware this must be one first class lemon tart.
Not willing to compete with such a tart, I have gone in a slightly different direction. But I promise still a very delicious direction. I have always been a little nervous of a baked lemon tart as they aren't predictable, not for me anyway. A lemon tart is a thing of beauty and there's nothing more annoying than having a great big crevice down the middle of the tart. So I have, rather unconsciously, always veered towards a set lemon tart. A tart that is filled with a rich and unctuous lemon curd which you can trust to set in the fridge exactly as you left it. This has been my go to lemon tart for a few years now and it's a real crowd pleaser.
Plus this recipe has the added bonus of showing you how to make lemon curd. Lemon curd is incredibly versatile. Have it on hot toast, sandwich sponge cakes together with it, stir it into buttercream, or pipe it into profiteroles. So so good in so many ways.
When I throw dinner parties I always like to be able to make the pudding the day before. That way I just don't need to think about it, and I find it the most restful way of doing things. If the thought of dinner parties stresses you out or makes you feel faint with worry just at the thought, try making this for pudding the day before. I promise you, it's a game changer.
You could even buy a ready-made pastry tart case. You could! I wont tell anyone. But I'm also going to show you how to make your own pastry and it's easier than you think. There are a gazillion pastry recipes out there but this sweet pastry is my current go-to.
I bet if you've listened to Pip's episode, (and if not, why not?), I'm assuming it comes as a relief I haven't chosen to cook a chicken breast dipped in homous...Although I can of course see the appeal of that snack, I thought the lemon tart might be a more popular and traditional choice.
For the pastry:
100g (3.5 oz) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
175g(6oz) plain flour
25g (1oz) icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp cold water
For the lemon curd
225g (8oz) butter
340g golden caster sugar
4 lemons, juiced (1/2 cup juice)
zest of 1 lemon
For the pastry
You can make pastry in the food processor, which if you are a sloth, like me is very comforting to know. But equally if you fancy good old fashioned elbow grease, then by all means use a bowl and a wooden spoon. You do you.
Pop the flour, butter, icing sugar in a food processor and pulse until it looks like breadcrumbs. Then add the egg yolk and the water and pulse very briefly until it comes together.
Tip out onto a floured work surface and kneed once or twice to make it a smooth ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Roll out and line a 23cm (9 inch)loose bottom tart tin with the pastry. Gently press the pastry up the sides and into the corners of the tin. Take a fork and poke holes all over the base of the pastry. Yes - most people use baking beans here, but I find this works just as well. Cook for 12 minutes, remove from the oven and use your fork to press the pastry down if it's risen up, and pop back in the oven for another 10 minutes until it is pale golden.
For the lemon curd:
Put the lemon zest, juice, sugar and butter in a heatproof bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water.
Stir until the butter has melted. Add the whisked egg and then keep whisking the mixture over the heat. Whisk for about 10 minutes by which time the curd should have thickened deliciously.
Pour the curd through a sieve into a jug to remove the zest and any unintentional scrambled egg (!). Pour into the cooked tart tin and leave to cool in the fridge for a good few hours until it's set. I always tend to do this the night before so that I know it's set.
Decorate with fresh fruit, and serve with some creme fraiché and a sprig of fresh mint.