Monday, 22 August 2011

Glazed Lemon Tart

Recipe Number Seventy Eight:  Page 264.

The reason for trying my hand at making a lemon tart was the 'Great British Bake Off', which is currently being aired on BBC 2. At the end of the last episode, it stated that the following week’s challenge would focus on pastry. I thought it would be fun to see how my efforts compared. Making pastry is not something that comes naturally; it certainly puts me well out of my comfort zone! I find this particular pastry, páte sucrée (sweet pastry) very temperamental and fiddly. I had a strong feeling that the next few hours could prove to be stressful!

I waited until my son's lunchtime nap so that I could give the pastry my full attention. I measured some flour into my mixing bowl and then rubbed in the butter. At this point Neil passed me a hot cup of tea. I decided to resist taking a sip in case it made my hands warm and thus ruined the pastry. I was taking no chances!! The next job was to stir in some sugar before I came to separate a few eggs. I stirred the yolks into the flour mixture; the whites were not needed so I put them to one side, while I contemplated what to do with them! At first the combined ingredients mostly stuck to my fingers, but very quickly the mixture came together and formed a smooth ball of dough. I retrieved a roll of cling-film from a drawer and wrapped the dough before placing it in the fridge. I decided to whisk up the unwanted egg whites, add some sugar and, hey presto, I'd made meringues! I popped them into the oven and felt quite chuffed that I had made two things out of my ingredients!

At this point I decided that it might be a good idea to read through the whole recipe. No, I still haven't learnt! Mary gives the option of adding sliced lemons to the top of the tart; I intended to do this as it sounded rather appealing. Unfortunately I hadn't noticed that the lemon slices needed to be soaked for at least two hours before I could use them, uh-oh!! I sprung into action and measured some sugar and water into a saucepan and heated it until boiling. I quickly sliced two lemons, they were supposed to be thinly sliced - well some were thinner than others! I picked out any pips and then popped the lemons into the hot syrup. When pouring the lemon slices along with the syrup into a bowl to soak, some of the hot syrup dripped onto to the newly cleaned floor!! By this time the pastry had been in the fridge for the required half hour. I lightly floured my worktop and placed my flan tin near me so that I could check the size. I started to roll the chilled pastry out; it didn't take long before it had glued itself to the worktop, grrr! This meant I had to start again. This time I made sure that I turned the pastry after each roll of the rolling pin. It worked, and soon the pastry was big enough to go inside the tin. I VERY carefully lifted the pastry from the worktop with my rolling pin. I unrolled the pastry over the flan tin and, although one side and the base slotted neatly into place, one side broke apart. I could have cried! I was going to take the pastry out and start again, but decided just to patch it up with bits of pastry. I spent ages doing this as I did not want any gaps or holes. Finally, I had something that didn't look too bad. I pricked the base of the pastry with a fork before placing it in the fridge. I quickly gulped down my now stone cold tea before starting on the filling.

I needed yet more eggs for the filling, but this time all of the egg was used. I was surprised to be adding ground almonds but, as I adore almonds, it was a pleasant surprise! I poured in some sugar and double cream; I could tell this tart was going to be rich. Now I could move on to adding the all important lemons. I had to grate the zest from four lemons; my right arm really ached by the time I had finished! I added the zest and also some lemon juice to the almondy mixture, and then poured it into the chilled pastry case. I anxiously placed the lemon tart into the oven. It looked OK, but I couldn't help worrying about the patched up pastry! The tart cooked for just over 30 minutes. The pastry did burn a little around the edges but, apart from that, I was pleased as the filling had set and I couldn't see any leakages. I let it cool for around half an hour before adding the decoration. Mary says the drained lemon slices should overlap. Well, I must have used two particularly small lemons as I barely had enough to cover the tart! I heated up some sieved apricot jam and then brushed it generously over the top of the lemon slices and tart. Adding the decoration definitely made it look more special. I felt quite proud of it! I cut a huge slice for the photo; Neil and I shared the slice between us. Neil particularly liked the pastry that I had been so worried about; he thought it nice and crisp. The filling was creamy and the taste of almonds was particularly noticeable. We were both surprised by how subtle the lemon was, considering how many I had used! Although the sliced lemons on top made the tart look pretty, we thought the flavour was a little overwhelming, so ended up removing them!! This lemon tart did take a long time to make and I spent over half an hour washing everything up. If this was made for a special occasion, the effort would be well worth it.

If you don't like lemons - maybe not the one for you....


  1. I know it's not the "Mary Berry Way" (it's actually the "Rachel Allen Way"), but as a novice pastry maker myself, I've found rolling the pastry out sandwiched between two pieces of cling film to be life-changing. It saves mess, saves your pastry from going dry because it's absorbed too much extra flour and makes placing the pastry into the tin a complete breeze! Try it next time you're doing pastry. :)

  2. Hi Jenny, thanks so much for your fantastic tip. I noticed on the Great British Bake Off they were using cling film. I am going to have to try this next time. I never knew this could be done! Should save me a lot of time and a lot of stress!!! Thanks so much :-)

  3. The clingfilm method is a great tip. I used to get into terrible messes before I tried it! I adore lemon anything, so this is making my mouth water :-)