Whilst summer may not have officially arrived yet here in the UK , the season is already in full swing in my kitchen, it’s become overrun with lemons, berry jams & elderflower cordial (basically there’s more jam than usual!).
I’m sure this happens to most of us at this time of year, something clicks in our brains to tell us that summer is coming & suddenly we find ourselves craving fresh fruits, salads, BBQ’s & Pimm’s.
As soon as I see those fresh colours of the berries, the citrus & the veggies return to the local market I’m like a tiger stalking it’s prey before I pounce & end up buying way more of it than I can humanly eat (hence the excess of jams!).
With all of these amazing, fresh foods on offer though, I always seem to gravitate towards the citrus fruits, oranges, limes & lemons. There’s just something about a huge, knobbly, juicy lemon that brings thought of sunshine. Eating anything citrusy just remind me of the Mediterranean… warmer climates, longer days & sipping on a spritz by the sea.
Perhaps it’s a reminder of all of the lovely foods I’ve enjoyed on my travels in Italy? After all, I am the girl who brought back half a suitcase full of Amalfi lemons from a trip to Campania (if you’re wondering, yes, I do take an empty carry on bag in my luggage whenever I travel to Italy, purely so that I can make room in my suitcase for food on the way home – I’m either a genius or have issues).
Other than a really zesty marmalade, my favourite thing to make out these lovely lemons is a lemon tart, or tarte au citron if we’re being proper. A thin, sweet pastry case, filled with a sunshine yellow lemon custard, just set to a delicate wobble.
A favourite dessert of the French, it’s not hard to see why. This colourful little tart packs a punch, there’s no denying the lemons in there. The sweet, crumbly shortcrust pastry adds that much needed sweetness to help balance out that acidity though. For a French dessert, this is so quick & easy to throw together, although I an impatient baker, where some might cook the custard before adding it to the pastry case, I prefer to bung it all in the oven & eat some lemon tart a little sooner.
(makes one 23cm tart)
For the pastry:
- 250g plain flour
- 125g butter, cubed
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
- 2 – 3 tbsp cold water
For the filling:
- 5 large eggs
- 160g caster sugar
- 150ml double cream
- zest & juice of 4 lemons
- To make the pastry begin by combining the flour & icing sugar in a large bowl
- Add in the cubed butter & using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
- Add in 1 tbsp at a time of the water, stirring after each addition using just enough until it starts to come together in clumps then use your hands to finish bringing it together to form a dough
- Flatten the dough into a shallow disc shape, cover in cling film & chill in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes (you could even do this the day before
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C & roll out the pastry large enough to fill the tart tin to roughly the thickness of a £1 coin
- Line your tin with the pastry, leaving it hang over the edges of the tin
- Prick the base of the pastry all over using a fork
- Place a sheet of baking parchment in the pastry case & fill with baking beans
- Blind bake the pasty for 12-14 minutes, remove the beans & parchment & continue to bake for a further 5-10 minutes until slightly golden in colour
- Remove the tin from the oven & trim off the excess pastry overhanging the sides of the tin whilst it is still hot from the oven
- Turn down the temperature on the oven to 130C
- To make the filling, simply combine all of the ingredients together in large bowl, making sure that everything is well combined
- Once the oven has cooled, place the pastry case back into the oven on a low shelf & carefully pour in the filling (this just makes sure that we don’t spill any)
- Bake the tart for 30-35 minutes until the filling is just set, but with a slight wobble
- Leave to cool completely before decorating or dusting with icing sugar