The perfect melt-in-the-mouth dessert: a traditional French lemon tart made with a rich, shortcrust-style pastry
Prep time: 35 mins
Cooking time: 50 mins
Total time: 1 hr 25 mins
Skill level: Bit of effort
For the pastry:
- 150g (5oz) plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 100g (3½oz) unsalted butter
- 50g (1¼oz) caster sugar
- 1 medium egg
- Few drops of vanilla extract
For the filling:
- 3 medium eggs
- 100g (3½oz) caster sugar
- 142ml carton double cream
- Finely zested rind and juice of 3 lemons
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- 23cm (9in) fluted flan tin
- To make the pastry: Place all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and whizz until the mixture starts to bind together. Alternatively, tip the flour and salt into a bowl, and add the butter, cut into chunks. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and then add the egg and vanilla extract, and mix to bind the ingredients together.
- Tip the dough out on to a floured worktop and knead it very lightly to give a smooth surface, then roll it out and use it to line the flan tin. Chill the pastry case for at least 15 minutes. Set the oven to Gas Mark 5 or 190°C and place a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.
- Line pastry case with a sheet of baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for 12 minutes, then carefully lift out the parchment paper with the baking beans and return the case to the oven for a further 3-5 minutes, or until light golden. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to Gas Mark 4 or 180°C.
- To make the filling: Beat the eggs, then add sugar, cream and lemon rind and juice, and mix well. Pour mixture into the pastry case, filling it almost to the top.
- Bake the tart in the centre of the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the edges of the filling have set and it is just slightly wobbly in the centre. Remove from the oven, slide the flan tin on to a wire rack and leave the tart to cool in the tin for about 20-30 minutes. Remove from the tin and leave to cool completely. Chill the tart well, and dust it with icing sugar just before serving.
Top tip: Try to keep the pastry very cool, and handle it as little as possible to make it really short, crumbly and melt-in-the mouth.Feature: Sue McMahon. Photos: frankthephotographer.com. Props stylist: Sue Radcliffe.
Nutritional information per portion
This nutritional information is only a guide and is based on 2,000 calories per day. For more information on eating a healthy diet, please visit the Food Standards Agency website.
Guideline Daily Amount for 2,000 calories per day are: 70g fat, 20g saturated fat, 90g sugar, 6g salt.