Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Classic Lemon Tart
This is my favourite classic lemon tart recipe. It is as close to perfection as what a good old-fashion lemon tart should be, with velvety smooth creamy lemon filling and a buttery sweet pastry crust.
It is relatively easy to make, especially if you have a food processor. However, with this particular sweet crust pastry dough, I often struggle with transferring the pastry to the tart tin. The pastry keeps breaking on the edges of the tin. I had to patch up the pastry and did a bad job at that.
If you find that the pastry is too crumbly, knead another teaspoon of egg yolk into the dough. Noting that the dough should never be wet or sticky. To test if the dough needs more egg yolk, pinch a little dough between your finger. If it doesn't holds together, add a little more egg yolk. I used about 38 grams of egg yolk which seems to do the job nicely.
Having said all that, a homemade pastry is always much better than a commercial one, and is definitely worth the little bit of effort. And everyone will think that you are a genius.
It is important not to overcook the filling. The custard should feel firm around the outside of the tart, but still a bit wobbly in the middle. The middle will set as the tart cools. It's best made a day ahead. Keep the tart in the fridge. Dust with a little sifted icing sugar just before serving, and maybe with a little cream or ice-cream on the side.
If you are wondering why there is a slight crack between the lemon filling and tart in the photo below, I nearly dropped the whole tart on the floor. Fortunately, my quick reflexes saved the day!
Classic Lemon Tart
(Adapted from Women's Weekly Bake)
Makes one 24cm tart.
185 grams plain flour
55 grams icing sugar
30 grams ground almonds
125 grams unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg yolk (about 38 grams), lightly beaten
1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated
125 ml lemon juice, strained
5 eggs, lightly beaten
165 grams caster sugar
250 ml cream
To make the pastry:
Place flour, icing sugar, almond meal and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the egg yolk and process until the dough just comes together. Knead gently and briefly on a lightly floured surface until the dough is smooth. Form into a ball, flatten into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking paper until large enough to line 24cm round loose-based tart tin. Lift pastry into tin, ease into base and side. Trim off any excess pastry. Refrigerate 30 minutes. (At this stage, I usually like to cover the pastry with plastic wrap and freeze it overnight. I find that baking the pastry when it’s completely frozen helps minimize shrinkage.)
Preheat the oven to 180 degree celcius fan-forced. Place tart tin on baking tray. Line the pastry with a sheet of baking paper and pour in dried beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove paper and beans/rice. Lightly brush the pastry shell with egg white to seal. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until light golden. Set aside to cool. Reduce the oven to 140 degree celcius fan-forced.
To make the filling:
Whisk ingredients for the lemon filling in a large bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the lemon zest to infuse the mixture. Strain the lemon filling. Carefully pour the filling into the pastry shell and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until just set. (Important: Don’t overcook the filling. The custard should feel firm around the outside of the tart, but still a bit wobbly in the middle.)
Set aside to cool completely, then refrigerate until cold.