One of our favourite French desserts is Tarte au Citron or French Lemon Tart and it is surprisingly easy to make. It is one of those food items that we cannot leave France without having at least once. Tarts of varying quality can be found across France in supermarkets and patisseries and often have the word ‘Citron’ drizzled on top in chocolate or gold wording on chunk of decorative chocolate. This recipe is for a much simpler version without the chocolate but you could add that if you wished as well. I just served a summer fruit accompaniment of blueberries and strawberries with my Tarte au Citron and gave it a dusting of icing sugar. For those who wished, pouring cream was available at the table. It makes an excellent dessert when entertaining friends.
This recipe came from The French Kitchen by Joanne Harris & Fran Warde: Joanne Harris is a well known novelist many of whose books I have enjoyed (including Chocolat which was also filmed). I would certainly repeat this Tarte au Citron recipe and next time would very much like to make it with authentic Pâte Brisée pastry as suggested in the recipe. This soft but often difficult to handle pastry, made with butter, egg and sugar, is regularly used for French patisserie. On this occasion I substituted the simpler shortcrust for the recommended pâte brisée (see basic recipe post for information on how to make these).
Tarte au Citron (French Lemon Tart)
100g unrefined sugar
150ml double cream (I used Elmlea half fat)
zest & juice of 2 lemons
1. Heat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6 for blind baking if you are using a shortcrust pastry shell.
2. Make pastry case (either Shortcrust or Pâte Brisée) using basic recipe and chill for at least 30minutes. For the shortcrust pastry shell only, blind bake for 10minutes (I fill the empty pastry shell with dried beans).
3. Heat oven (or reduce temperature) to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4
3. Place the eggs, sugar and cream in a bowl with the lemon zest and juice and whisk until creamy.
4. Melt the butter gently and whisk into the lemon mixture.
5. Pour lemon mixture into the chilled pastry case.
6. Carefully place tart into the centre of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
7. Reduce the oven temperature to 160oC/Gas 3 and bake for a further about 20minutes or until the filling has set.
8. Leave to cool for at least 1 hour before serving.
9. Decorate with a dusting of icing sugar or chocolate shavings. Can be served with summer berries or slices of orange and if needed, some pouring cream.