Lemon Tart – Creamy, zesty-Sweet and Rich

Lemon Tart

Kia Ora everyone!

I must say what an amazing summer we’ve had. Absolutely marvellous. Now that everyone is back into the swing of things here’s a treat you may just well need…you can thank me later!

If you are like me, it’s always a special treat and childlike surprise when relaxing in the evening after a nice home dinner, out comes an amazing dessert from nowhere. 

This was the case last week thanks to my two grown up daughters Chloe and Eloise who proudly brought out to our family a to-die-for dessert: Tarte au Citron / Lemon Tart.

This dessert is just so good, or as the French say, “si bon!” and I saw myself as Oliver Twist ‘please Sir, can I have some more?”

In France, the lemon tart was so revered that it was served to the king as a symbol of wealth and goodness. It is relatively simple to make and so worth it for the zesty lemon tang and creamy custard – a delicious sweet and sour experience that cannot fail to delight your family and guests. You will love this crisp made in heaven almond pastry and divine sweet and sour silky custard. What more could one wish for as autumn beckons…

The lemons we used were my all-time favourite, home-grown, organic and from the heartlands of Te Puna thanks to my dear Auntie Nicky.

Heat the oven to 180°C

(You will also need a food processor and a beater.)

lemon tart

Pastry first

Whiz butter, icing sugar, almonds, flour and lemon zest just until it

forms big clumpy breadcrumbs. Add the eggs and yolks and pulse

until it all comes together in a ball. Pat into a big fat disc, flour the

top and bottom lightly, wrap in Gladwrap and chill in the fridge for

30 minutes. The pastry can be prepared the day before or even frozen

until needed. While it chills, prepare the filling.

Lemon Custard filling

Beat eggs, yolks, sugar and lemon zest for 5 minutes, until sugar is

dissolved (not gritty). Beat in cream, then whisk in lemon juice gently

to combine. Pour into a big jug and leave to sit in the fridge while you

finish the base.

Remove the pastry from the fridge, sit for 5-10 minutes, then roll out

on a lightly floured surface, into a circle a little bigger than your tin.

Now you need to be careful – this is a soft pastry, lots of butter keeps

it short and crisp, but it also makes it a little less amenable when

getting it into the tin. 

Gently roll up the pastry around your rolling

pin, and un-roll it over the tin so that it flops roughly into position.

Gently squish the pastry into place up the sides of the tin and press

gently into the base. Leaving a good amount of overhang. 

Patch up any tears – you will never see them – but you do want to finish with an evenly distributed pastry base. 

Chill in the freezer for half an hour while the oven preheats to 180°C .

Gently prick the base of the pastry with a fork and cut out a large circle of baking paper, it needs to come up the inside sides of the pastry. 

Put it in and fill it with raw beans, or rice (blind bake) – it must come at least some way up the sides of the pastry, what you want is to pre-cook it so that it doesn’t shrink, and provides firm, non-collapsing sides to the tart. 

Cook for 15 minutes, carefully remove paper and beans/rice, brush with quickly whisked reserved egg white and cook a further 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Reduce oven temperature to 140°C.

Pull base half way out of the oven and gently pour in the lemon custard. Gently push back into the oven and cook 45-50 minutes until set but still with a bit of wobble in the middle much like set jelly. 

Leave to cool to room temperature. Now you can serve it warm or leave it in the fridge to chill. We love to eat this the next day!

Sprinkle with the grilled coconut shavings and voila.

Serve with natural Greek tangy Yogurt- a marriage from heaven.

PS If you have the patience and self-control replace the coconut with a 1/3 of a cup of caster sugar sprinkled evenly over the surface and blow-torch it brulee style for a bit of extra textural crunch and definite wow factor.

Bon Appetit!

By Chef Stephen, The Happy Puku Catering Co