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Friday, 10 September 2010

Tarte au Citron et Tarte à l'Orange

There are lemon tarts and lemon tarts. This is the tartest and best recipe I have come across and it goes down well every time. If you like a big sharp lemon hit then this is just the job.

I use a very rich sweet pastry made with plenty of egg yolks and icing sugar for the base. I know it's a fiddle but it is absolutely worth it and on the occasions when I have resorted to normal or bought pastry it has still been delicious but not a patch on the real thing. Obviously time doesn't always permit this and sometimes life's too short to be making pastry from scratch but here is the recipe if you want to have a go. This quantity make enough to do 4 or 5 tarts so I make it in advance, weigh it out in around 400g portions and then freeze it. I use the Kitchenaid and it's quite a messy business as the quantities are large but you can cut the quantities in half to make 2-3 tarts.

You will need:
700g unsalted butter (best left out of the fridge)
300g icing sugar
8 egg yolks
100ml water
1kg flour

Cream the butter and sugar until they are really soft and white. Add the egg yolks and keep scraping the sides down periodically to make sure they are well mixed in. Add a little water and then tip in all the flour. Add the remaining water (or sometimes a little less) and mix everything well. Remove, divide into portions and either chill well in the fridge or freeze.

The result varies and sometimes it is extremely short. Be sure to keep a little raw pastry back after you roll it out and blind bake so you have some for patching afterwards. You can also cut small slices of pastry and make a patchwork pastry base if it's proving difficult to roll.

For the filling you will need:
5 lemons (grate the zest of 4 them and squeeze the juice from all 5)
9 eggs
390g caster sugar
250ml double cream

Roll, line and blind bake the pastry case - make sure there are no holes and patch up if necessary with a little of your reserved pastry. This is very important - I have had one or two disasters when the filling has slowly oozed out of a tiny crack and ended up all over the oven.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together, add the lemon juice and zest and stir in the cream.

Pour into the pre-baked pastry case. I use a very deep fluted tin and have a little left over which makes a couple of individual tarts. If you don't have a deep tin you can use half the quantity of filling - it's not quite as decadent but very delicious nonetheless and will need less cooking time.

Put in the oven preheated to Gas half to one 130C 260F for 30 to 40 minutes. It should be still wobbly in the centre as it continues to firm up when taken out of the oven. Leave for at least an hour - it's wonderful at room temperature, equally good cold the next day and it freezes perfectly.

For an orange tart which is different but equally delicious use the following filling:

Grated zest of 4 oranges
1 litre of fresh orange juice, reduced down to 250ml (this takes quite some time and can be done the day before)
400g caster sugar
9 eggs
250ml double cream

Again, whisk the eggs and sugar, add the reduced orange juice and zest, stir in the cream and cook as above.

Just as a final note, the tart in the picture was one I made using half quantities and a more shallow tin. I had a little filling left so I baked it in tiny ramekins and served with a little pouring cream as a palate cleanser after a rich meal.


  1. If freezing, what is the best way to wrap it and how long will it take to defrost?

  2. I normally take the pastry out of the freezer the night before I use it and leave it in a cool place. Same with the whole tarts which freeze extremely well. I normally wrap the pastry in cling film and put several in a sealed plastic bag. When freezing the tart I put it in uncovered and leave it there until frozen, then take it out, cover with cling film and a layer of aluminium foil and put back until I need it.
    Hope that helps.

  3. Thanks! I make a similar recipe all the time - but I'm making for my boyfriend's birthday and we'll be away until 5pm on the day...so knowing that the whole thing freezes well is very helpful!

  4. Perfect, that should work really well. Hope he enjoys it!