So after one month of holidays from university filled with cooking adventures at god-forbidden hours, the occasional one-too-many drinks and spending the brisk winter afternoons in bed with my cat, I am now back at university for my second semester. Always feels like no matter how long the holidays are, once you return to study it’s as if they never happened. Everything gets harder from here on; the journey to a medical degree is looooong. Very, very long. Thank god I have this blog and chamomile tea to keep me (somewhat) sane during the next 7 years. Anyway, enough about uni – and onto this lemon tart. Not just any lemon tart, but the lemon tart of the century. Silky, creamy, smooth and a burst of citrus and lemon in your mouth with every bite. Drooling yet? You should be. The lemon cream recipe is adapted from Pierre Hermé, the connoisseur of the pastry world. I’ve seen many a lemon tart recipe requiring the mixture to be baked in the oven – something that I cannot fathom. A lemon tart should be a light, simple mixture that does not require any baking of sorts. This recipe is far superior to that of any baked lemon curd tart.
Silky Lemon Tart
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 3 large lemons, zest grated
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 295g unsalted butter, softened & cut into cubes
- 1 fully baked 9-inch sweet tart shell (I’ll include a recipe for this in a later post)
- Bring a medium sized saucepan of water to a simmer. Place the sugar and finely grated zest in a large bowl that will fit on top of the simmering water (but making sure the water is not high enough to touch the bowl, this is very important). Before putting it on the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers. The product should be moist, grainy and incredibly fragrant. Whisk in the eggs, and finally the lemon juice until mixed well.
- Place the bowl on top of the pan. Do not begin to whisk until the mixture feels lukewarm to the touch. Now, for this part you should be using a thermometer, whisking until the cream reaches 80°C but I have to admit I don’t own one myself… Whilst making this I went by how the mixture looked, felt and tasted and it came out perfectly. So it’s still possible to do this without a thermometer! Anyway, do not stop whisking once the mixture is lukewarm (this prevents the eggs from scrambling) – the cream will become foamy, and as it comes closer to the needed temperature, it will thicken and the whisk will leave noticeable tracks. Keep whisking at this point, until it reaches 80°C (or until it is thick, very thick and silky if you’re going by eye).
- Immediately pull the cream from the heat once it reaches that point, and strain into a blender. Rest for 10 minutes, stirring a few times until it is slightly cooler.
- Place lid on the blender, turn to high and add a few pieces of butter at a time, about 4 to 5. Continue to do this, waiting 5 to 10 seconds between adding the next lot of butter, until all of it is in. Do not, I repeat, do not stop blending at this point! This step is crucial to attaining that perfect, dreamy lemon tart – keep the machine going for another 3 minutes. If you have an old machine (like mine), do it in half minute or 1 minute intervals. Just make sure you blend for another 3 minutes after all of the butter is added.
- Pour the mixture into a bowl or plastic container, covering with a piece of plastic for at least 5 hours but preferably overnight.
- Once you are ready to fill your tart shell, or whichever casing you have decided to use, mix the cream a little to loosen it and pour into the tart shell. Use a spatula to either smooth the tart or give it a rustic, home-made look like I’ve done with mine above.
- Garnish with sliced lemons (or even preserved lemons) and icing sugar. Serve with clotted cream for a luxurious little dessert.