Lemon tart

the finished product

photo by Adam Morris

Before I walk you through the making of my tasty lemon tart with candied lemon slices [pictured above], I want to let you know about my recent visit to Tarts Cafe (212 Lake Street, Northbridge – ph: +618 9328 6607). This was another of those places that I had driven past a thousand times without entering.

The day before I was going to publish this post, Tarts suffered an explosion, so I thought I would leave this one alone until the dust settled. Apparently, the cafe reopened very quickly after the incident and all is well; no word on the two injured staff.

all kinds of sweet things tempt and titillate in the Tarts dessert cabinet

When you think of Tarts, think of sugar and spice and all things nice. It is filled with fabulous food, beautiful gifts and personal indulgences. It would be so easy to walk in with my tatty wallet and walk out with a Sex-and-the-City-esque handbag…

the cafe is full of pretty things screaming, "Buy me!"

…although I did walk out with something rather different this time [close your eyes and scroll past the next picture, N & G].

wedding card for lovely friends who are about to tie the proverbial knot

Naturally, I partook of the coffee, and I was a little disappointed. It’s not often that I have to add sugar to my coffee these days – and on this occasion it made a dramatic difference.

at least it looked good

I ordered a mini rhubarb & raspberry cake to take away, and it made for a lovely dessert that night.

teensy weensy desserts just begging to be eaten

The savouries looked so delectable that I must return for lunch.

I especially liked the look of the smoked salmon roulade

So now to my recipe, the delightfully tangy filling of which is actually the result of trialling different quantities of ingredients over a number of years. I am not 100% happy with the pastry: it’s too thin. It does have something going for it though, and that is the fact it doesn’t intrude on the flavour of the filling.

Notes on the photos: I actually made two tarts, hence the differences you may see between shots. Oh, and if you notice a difference in skill level between most of these shots and my usual iPhone offerings, then you would be right – I was fortunate to have the awesome skills of photographer Adam Morris at my disposal as I cooked.

Recipe #75: Simple lemon tart.

For the pastry, you will need:
► 155g (=1¼ cups) plain flour
► 1 pinch salt
► a bag of almond meal (90-110g)
► 100g unsalted butter, cut into small squares and chilled
► ~2 tbsp ice cold water

For the filling, you will need:
► 12 eggs
► 450g (= 2¼ cups) caster sugar
► 250mL (= 1 cup) double cream
► the juice and zest from 4 lemons

Start with the pastry. Sift the flour, salt and almond meal onto a chopping block, or into a large bowl. Add the butter and toss together with a palette knife or similar [like a dedicated and very clean paint-scraper, as I use].

the start of something beautiful

photo by Adam Morris

Press the butter into the flour with the knife/scraper until the butter is misshapen, then toss the water into the mix.

adding ice cold water to the pastry

photo by Adam Morris

Use the heel of your start to massage the butter into the dry ingredients, and do this quickly and lovingly [remember that pastry only works with love!]. This is the fraisage.

fraisage

photo by Adam Morris

Once you have a well-formed ball of dough, flatten it into a disc shape and chill for around 20 minutes. This is where I would also preheat the oven – to 180°C.

To make the filling, start by zesting the lemons, then set the zest to one side. If you don’t own a microplane, I recommend buying one for jobs like this. So worth the $15 investment, but watch your fingers – the blades are razor sharp.

zesting the lemons

photo by Adam Morris

Bring the cream to the boil on the stove > once it boils, remove it from the heat. While you are doing this, you can beat or whisk the eggs and sugar together until well combined, then add the juice of the four lemons you just zested. You can use a citrus juicer for this; I cut each lemon in half, then use a fork to press the juice from the lemons (remember to do this into the bowl over a strainer).

whisking in lemon juice

photo by Adam Morris

Next, gradually pour in the boiled cream, whisking (or beating) as you go, then strain the mixture into a jug. Stir in the lemon zest. And your filling is done!

straining the mix

photo by Adam Morris

Now to roll out the pastry. Flour the rolling surface well. Remove the disc of pastry from the fridge and flour that too – then roll until it is around half a centimetre thick.

rolling the pastry

photo by Adam Morris

Grease a 20cm tart tray and line the bottom of the tray with a circle of baking paper. Slide this under the centre of the sheet of pastry and carefully press the pastry into the tray. There will be some overhanging pastry; slowly cut this from around the tart tray > you can bake this into canape cases, or into misshapen bits that can be later crushed to form a cheesecake base [see Recipe #7].

cutting the pastry to size

photo by Adam Morris

Prick the bottom of the pastry multiple times with a fork > this should prevent you from needing to blind bake [blind baking = baking the pastry with weights or legumes to weigh down the pastry and prevent air bubbles]. Bake the pastry for 15-20 minutes, remove it from the oven to check for air bubbles (and gently squish them out with a tea-towel), then place back in the oven until golden in colour – around 10-15 minutes later.

Pour in the filling, then bake in a 160°C oven for up to an hour. The filling of the tart should still be wobbly, and this is ok > it will set as it cools. If the top of the tart starts to colour, remove it from the oven – it’s probably had enough by this stage, and this can happen at any time from the 40 minute mark so keep an eye on it!

Let the tart sit and cool before adding the candied lemons to the top of the tart. Serve with double cream for a comfortingly familiar flavour sensation.

yumbly

Recipe #76: Candied lemon slices. Adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe.

You will need:
► 1 large lemon, sliced as finely as possible
► cold water (from the tap is fine)
► iced water
► 1 cup sugar

Place the lemon slices in a heat-proof mixing bowl. Boil some water and pour it over the lemon slices. Stir the lemon slices until they are softened (takes 1-3 minutes), then remove the lemon slices and place them in a bath of iced water until chilled. Drain the lemon slices on paper towel.

Pour the sugar into a large-based saucepan (over medium heat) with 2 cups of water. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then add the lemon slices > try to minimise the overlap as far as possible.

candying the lemons

Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and the sugar syrup just starts to colour. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the lemon slices to cool (at least until just-warm) before arranging them on top of the lemon tart.

It may seem like a lot of work, but this really is a simple recipe. Please let me know if you like it – especially if you give it a go!

H 🙂

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. Jelena says:

    Hey this looks amazing but far beyond my culinary skills! However I am always happy to partake! Also makes me remember I must return to Tarts Cafe as I have only been there once. The photos look amazing too! Both yours and the photographer’s.

    1. Hannah says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jelena – and it may look like a lot of instructions, but it is seriously a simple recipe to try!

      H 🙂

  2. David says:

    update on chef/hand (from memory of the article i read):
    chef was having minor skin graft some stage, the hand/apprentice has been released from hospital. both want to get back to work. Owner has banned aerosol cans from the kitchen

    1. Hannah says:

      Thanks for the update, David. Great to know they are ok.

      H 🙂

  3. Josh Jones says:

    Note To Self: Have a go at making pastry sometime soon; get good at it; gorge on tarts and pies for the rest of your life. What a plan! With a little help from your lovely recipes Hannah I may actually put weight on one day. If it never happens it won’t be because I didn’t try. 😉 Jxo

    1. Hannah says:

      Thanks so much for the lovely compliment, Josh. Please do try this at home; like I said to Jelena, it really is super simple.

      H 🙂

      PS. Looking forward to The Stuns debut album!

  4. nachiketa says:

    Hi!

    love your tarts… so pretty(especially the candied lemon) to look n must be yummy to eat.
    Loved surprising my friends with these 🙂 Lemon Cake, Lemon Tarts ~ Happy Anniversary Shikha & Sujith n Surprise for Sharad

    Cheers,
    The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts – Nachiketa
    Catch me on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts

    1. Hannah says:

      Thanks for your comment, nachiketa! The lemon tart was awesome and loved by all, however I do have to find the perfect pastry.

      I took a look at your blog post and also liked your idea for pastry cases, especially if you’re time constrained. Very creative!

      H 🙂

  5. Anna says:

    Hey, Awesome recipe – but i think i messed the dough up good and proper!! hehe – still havent tried it yet though (as in tasted it) i found my dough was crumbly and i couldnt get it all pretty like in yours…what am i doing wrong???

    1. Hannah says:

      Thanks, Anna 🙂 I am so glad you gave this a go – and I am sorry to hear about your pastry dough woes.

      Pastry is a funny bunny. I am being 100% serious when I say you need to give it love!

      If your pastry is too crumbly, try working it a little more; give it a tender touch without working away all the beautiful little globs of butter. You can also try adding a little more cold water to bring the crumbs together (at the risk of having to add more flour later on).

      As I mentioned in my post, I was not a huge fan of the pastry I used here. Next time, I will make a sweet shortcrust pastry – possibly a modified version of Damien Pignolet’s pâte brisée (which, incidentally, is the same as Stephanie Alexander’s; I think because they worked together), by replacing some of the plain flour with icing sugar.

      Good luck – and please feel free to ask more questions if you’re still having dramas!

      H 🙂

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