Also know as tarte au citron, this elegant sweet treat has stood the test of time - light, buttery pastry filled to the brim with a gorgeously creamy, citrus mixture and baked until golden. Learn how to make this easy baking recipe in just six easy steps.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and icing sugar until softened. Stir in the flour and a pinch of salt, then add the yolks with 1 tbsp water and continue mixing to a sticky dough, being careful not to overwork it. Shape the dough into a disc, then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 2 hours.
Dust a clean surface with flour. Roll out the pastry to 3mm (1/8in). Put a 25cm (10in) loose-bottomed fluted tart tin on a baking sheet and line with the pastry. Prick the base all over then freeze for 30 minutes before trimming the excess pastry. Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C.
Scrunch up a large sheet of nonstick baking paper, then smooth it and use to line the pastry. Fill with baking beans and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and beans. Brush the pastry with egg white and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove and leave to cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to gas 2, 150°C, fan 130°C. For the filling, put 150ml (1/4 pint) lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Add the caster sugar and eggs, then gently whisk until combined. Pass the mixture through a sieve back into a bowl, then add the cream and lemon zest.
Transfer the mixture to a jug and pour into the cooled tart case. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until just set. To test if it’s ready, insert a sharp knife into the centre and pull slightly to one side. If you can see the base, it’s cooked; otherwise, return to the oven for 5 minutes, then test again.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool somewhere warm – the filling will crack if it cools too fast. Once cooled, transfer to a serving plate and dust with icing sugar (see expert glazing tip, below). Slice and serve.
Pink grapefruit: Add the zest of half an orange to the butter and icing sugar mixture in the first step. Swap the lemons for the zest of 2 pink grapefruits and 150ml (1/4pt) juice.
Creamy lime and coconut: Add 20g (3/4oz) desiccated coconut to the pastry mixture along with the flour in the first step. Swap the lemons for the zest of 4 limes and 150ml (1/4pt) juice. Make a topping by whipping 1 x 300ml tub double cream with 3 tbsp icing sugar to soft peaks. Spoon over the set lime tart and scatter with 2 tbsp toasted desiccated coconut.
Caramelised orange and lemon: Substitute the zest and juice of 1 1/2 lemons with the zest of 1 orange and 75ml (3fl oz) juice. Dust with 3 tbsp caster sugar and glaze to make a crunchy, caramelised topping (see expert tips, below).
Pastry freezes well, so it’s worth making double the amount so you have some to hand the next time you make this recipe.
To trim the excess pastry in the second step, run your rolling pin firmly over the top of the tin to cut the overhang and pull it away with your fingers.
Blind baking with paper and baking beans in the third step stops the pastry rising during cooking. The egg white seals it, which prevents a soggy base.
Put your lemons in the microwave for 20-30 seconds or roll them on the counter before squeezing to ensure you get every last drop of juice.
If you like lemon puds to taste extra tart, simply add a little extra lemon zest to the filling mixture in the fourth step.
To glaze your tart in the final step, caramelise the icing sugar with a blow torch (or under a hot grill) until golden and crunchy.
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