You’re almost there. You’ve almost made it to the new year and you can be happy that underwhelming Christmas desserts are not your problem for a whole year. I thought this week I’d do a lemon tart to celebrate. Far more satisfying then Christmas pudding and trifle. It’d also be great if you’re entertaining for new year’s because it does well for being made in advance. In fact it’s a good choice any day. The filling is zingy as all hell and beautifully smooth.
I must warn you that the beast I ended up with was enormous – my flan case was 30cm in diameter and about 5cm deep – and so it swallowed up 10 eggs. If you aren’t feeding several thousands hungry folks then use 6 eggs, 250g caster sugar, 180ml lemon juice and 150ml cream but you may as well make the same quantity of pastry but use a 23cm case instead.
The recipe is originally Angela Nilsen’s from the Ultimate Recipe Book but I’ve made some very minor adjustments and increased the quantity hugely.
Oven temperature 180 Celsius
Plain flour 140g
Caster sugar 2 tablespoons
Salt pinch of salt
Egg yolk 1
Water 2 tablespoons
Caster sugar 425g
Zest of 4 lemons
Lemon juice 300ml (~6 lemons)
Preheat the oven and grease a 30cm flan case if you’re using the monster quantities, but if you want the smaller version then grease a 23cm one. When I say grease I mean rub all over with butter and then dust with flour.
To make the pastry rub the flour, sugar and salt together to form ‘breadcrumbs’ then add in the egg yolk and water. Work the pastry till it forms a smooth dough then put it on a plate in the fridge to chill.
To make the filling crack the eggs into a big mixing bowl and add in the sugar. Using a wooden spoon beat it all together. Do not be tempted to use a whisk, you don’t want the mixture to become frothy in any way.
To the lemons. Zest the lemons into the big mixing bowl.
Juice enough lemons to get 300ml – this took me about 6 lemons. Pour that into the mixing bowl too and then stir everything together. Let it stand as you sort out the pastry.
Roll out the pastry, good and thin, and line the prepared flan case with it. If you want the full description of how to line a case with pastry then go ahead and click here.
Now bake the pastry blind for 15mins; that is put a piece of grease proof paper onto the uncooked pastry and weigh it down with baking beans, ideally, or rice otherwise.
After 15mins remove the paper and weights and then put the semi-cooked pastry back in the oven for another 10 – 15mins or until nicely brown. When it is cooked, remove it from the oven and leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile finish the filling. Measure the cream into a large jug and then strain in the eggy-lemony mixture to eliminate any egg snot or stray pips. Gently stir it all together.
Turn the oven down to 150 Celsius.
Put the cooked and cooled pastry case onto one of the oven shelves and slide out the shelf enough so that you can pour in the filling into the case, then carefully slide the shelf – and tart- back in. The monster tart took 35mins in total but I did turn it around after 20mins.
This bit is important: the tart is baked when it has a slight wobble towards the centre, like a very firm panacotta or very thick, cold custard. This ensures the filling remains silky smooth and delicious.
Let the tart cool completely and then put it in the fridge for a good hour, at least, to firm up to perfection. You can dust with icing sugar if you want or just eat it straight with lots of cream.
Happy New Year