As promised, following on from my notes about my recent pastry course at Denman College, here is the recipe I was given for Lemon Tart made with a sweet shortcrust pastry or ‘pate sucre’ as it is more technically known. The whole thing is actually super simple with quite little opportunity to screw it up. I’ve tried to include as many tips as possible that I picked up on the course to help.
This isn’t really a dessert that is overly keen on being transported – the nature of the pastry is that it’s very short and quite thin and delicate – I promise that the crust didn’t fall off until I’d put it in and taken it out of an undersized Tupperware container several times!
Ingredients For the Pastry:
30g Caster Sugar
120g Plain Flour
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
22.5g of Egg (less than 1)
Oil for greasing
Ingredients For the Tart Filling:
200g Caster Sugar
150ml Double Cream
1 tbsp Icing Sugar
Start by creaming together 75g Butter and 30g Caster Sugar until light and fluffy in a medium mixing bowl.
Tip – This was news to me. I had no idea you could make pastry without first rubbing butter into flour. We were told that that is a perfectly acceptable alternative method and easier, especially if using electric hand whisks as we did.
Whisk 1 Egg in a small bowl then weigh 22.5g of the beaten egg . Add 120g Plain Flour to the creamed butter and sugar along with 1tbsp Lemon Juice and the beaten egg and stir until a dough forms.
Tip – Keep the remainder of the beaten egg for the glaze later in the recipe.
Tip – The pro tip is to make sure you sieve the flour. I’m usually too lazy to do this and is probably where I go wrong!)
Lightly knead the dough just until it has fully come together into a smooth ball then wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge to chill.
Tip – We made this dough on the Friday evening then refrigerated it until we prepared the tart on Saturday morning but I was told that you can get away with leaving it for as little as 30 minutes.
Lightly grease a loose bottomed tart tin (about 20cm) with a little flavourless oil.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until relatively thin and a little bigger than than the tin (taking into account the amount of dough needed to line up the sides with a little excess).
Tip – Apparently you should only roll backwards and forwards, never side to side so you should roll out a little, lift and turn the dough 90 degrees and keep repeating until it’s the right size. I have a tendency to flip the dough too.
Tip -Keep sprinkling a little flour under the dough to prevent it sticking but don’t go overboard or you’ll change the consistency of the pastry.
Using the rolling pin to assist, drape the dough gently over the tart tin being careful to not rip it on the sharp edge, then using your finger pads, press the dough right into the corners of the tin.
Tip – If you think of a cross section of the dough in the corner of the tin, you are aiming for an ‘L’ rather than a ‘C’ shape.
Tip – Beware of long fingernails – I kept puncturing my dough with mine 😦
Using the rolling pin, roll over the top of the tin to cut the excess pastry away.
Tip – You can use any trimmings to patch up any holes if any have appeared.
After the case is trimmed, using your fingers gently ease the pastry around the edges up a little to compensate for shrinkage. Chill the pastry case for 30 minutes in the fridge.
While the pastry is chilling, separate the yolk from the white of 1 Egg. Mix the yolk with 4 whole Eggs and 200g Caster Sugar. Beat in 150ml Double Cream then the zest and juice of 2 Lemons.
Tip – There is no need to whisk air into the mixture so just mix to combine.
Tip – We were provided and recommended a fine microplane grater to zest the lemons. It’s on my Christmas list!
Tip – Roll the lemons on the work surface to make them easier to juice and squeeze the lemon juice into the mix through a fine sieve to ensure no seeds or pulp get through. I have a small nylon tea strainer just for this job (and sprinkling icing sugar over stuff).
Set the mixture aside until the case is ready to fill.
20 minutes into the pastry chilling time, put the oven on to preheat at 190c.
Line the inside of the pastry case with grease proof paper or a grease proof liner and FILL it with baking beans.
Tip – Don’t prick the pastry case. The baking beans will stop the base rising and it will increase the chances of the filling infiltrating the base pastry resulting in the fabled soggy bottom.
Tip – One of the biggest tips I learnt was to FILL the pastry case with the baking beans (or dried chickpeass/pulses/rice) to keep the sides from shrinking inwards.
Blind bake the pastry case with the beans in for 10 minutes.
Take the beans out and return the pastry to the oven for another 5 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 150c.
Using a pastry brush, gently paint a thin layer of your retained beaten egg over the whole of the inside of the pastry. It will dry and form a little bit of a barrier between the pastry and wet filling.
Tip – This and the blind baking IS the trick to avoiding a soggy bottom.
Place the tart tin on a baking tray and pour the filling mixture into the pastry case. Pop in the oven for 20 minutes.
Tip – The tart is ready when the filling is set in the middle but is still wobbly – it will carry on firming up a little before it cools.
If the tart isn’t yet ready, pop it back in and check every 3 to five minutes.
Leave the tart in its tin to cool then gently work around the edge of the tin with something sharp to make sure the pastry isn’t sticking and remove the tin edge.
You can serve the tart on the tin base if you wish, otherwise work a big and wide sharp knife between the pastry and tin (whilst on a flat surface) to release it.
Tip – I was confident enough to rest the whole tart on the palm of my hand while I removed the base before flipping it the right way up onto a plate. I knew my tart was fully set and my palm with fingers fully splayed was big enough to support the tart but use a plate or chopping board if you’re not so confident. The benefit of my method is that there was no risk of my pastry edge having to take the weight of the rest of the tart.
Sprinkle the tart with 1 tbsp Icing Sugar before serving with more double cream.