Everybody knows the classic tarte au citron, the beautiful French tart – a buttery pastry, filled with a zesty lemon custard. It’s a classic and some may say it’s perfect as it is and shouldn’t be changed. To them I say “pah!”. I’m a huge lover of lime and filling this tart with a smooth lime custard just sounded so much more appealing to my palate. Besides, I’m not one to stick to tradition!
This sweet and tart dessert is perfect for a sunny picnic, a celebratory barbecue or even a fancy dinner party. It’s versatile and gorgeous, a perfect choice for pies and tarts week of my Great British Bake Off challenge. I really enjoyed baking this and it was a lot simpler that I thought it would be, I normally associate French with tricky! The trickiest part was baking it just the right amount, you want to bake it until it is just set. You don’t want it to be under baked and runny, but you don’t want to dry it out either. So you have to keep a close eye on it.
I had a fancy French week this week, baking fancy French patisserie classics and eating fancy French food. I fulfilled a bucket list item of mine on Tuesday (well, I don’t have a bucket list but if I did this would have been on it). I ate at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay! I’m a big, big fan of Gordon – I love his recipes, the way he cooks and I think he is just a great person all round. I think if you don’t watch his shows often you’d get the wrong idea about him, because yes he can be very hot tempered and brash but if he can see you are putting effort in and taking care in what you do, he is extremely encouraging and actually very nice. It’s when you’re half-assing something or being intentionally stupid that he loses his temper! I was also super excited to eat at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay because the head chef there is a woman called Clare Smyth and she is the first British woman to receive and keep 3 Michelin stars – and if there’s one thing I love it’s successful ladies! The food was absolutely amazing, we had three courses but they also brought out appetisers and extra desserts. I’ve honestly never tasted anything that good before, there’s definitely a good reason it’s so pricey! If you want to see photos of the gorgeous food I ate, check out my instagram, I posted photos on it on Tuesday and Wednesday.
You bake this tart in two stages as you need to blind bake the pastry first. To blind bake, you line the tart tin with the pastry, then lightly line that with greaseproof paper and pour in Baking Beans and bake for 10 minutes. The baking beans stop bubbles from forming in the pastry. Doing this first though will ensure your pastry is nice and crisp and you end up with no soggy bottoms (the ultimate sin in Bake Off land!). I don’t know why it’s called blind baking to be honest. Then you mix up the filling which is kind of like a custard made from egg yolks, cream and lime zest and juice. Pour it into the pastry and finish the baking. A tip I learned from watching Bake Off was to only half fill the pastry case with the filling before transferring it to the oven shelf and then filling it up the rest of the way once it’s on the shelf, this prevents spillages which will really ruin the look of the tart over all. The whole thing is then topped off with a dusting of icing sugar, but you don’t want to do this until just before you serve it, as the icing sugar will dissolve into the top of the filling after a little while.
I was really please with how this tarte au citron vert came out and my taste testers really liked it too. This recipe is definitely a keeper, it will be going in my family cookbook for sure! I’m very glad I chose to use lime instead of lemon, but you of course could switch back to lemon if that’s what you prefer and it will not affect the outcome at all (other than the flavour, of course!). I really do hope you give this recipe a try, don’t be intimidated by the French name, it’s a fun one to bake with very satisfying results that everybody will love! And it’s much more impressive than your more homely lemon curd tart, at least I think so anyway! I’ll be bringing this along to Fiesta Friday, it’s the perfect party dessert so I hope they like it!
If you do give this one a go, please tag me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook when you post photos so I can check it out! You can also follow me to find out what I’m up to in the kitchen on a daily basis, I do love interacting with you guys on all kinds of platforms.
- 200g plain flour
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 100g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 1 egg yolk
- 2tbsp cold water
- 4 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 200g golden caster sugar
- 150ml double cream (heavy cream(
- 2 large limes - zest and juice
- 1/2 lemon - juice
- 1tbsp icing sugar and lime twists to decorate
- You will need a 20-23cm loose bottom tart/flan tin. Line the bottom and very lightly grease the sides.
- Sift the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the pastry until your mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. (You can also use a food processor to do this in a less messy way!)
- Beat the egg yolk with water and make a well in the centre of the mixture. Mix the egg and water mixture into the flour mix until it all comes together. Add a drop more water if the mixture is crumbly.
- Roll dough into a ball and flatten into a circle. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Once chilled, roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface (or between two sheets of greaseproof paper like I do to avoid adding extra flour) until it is about 2mm thick, you don't want it too thick but you also don't want it to so thin it'll tear and the filling leaks!
- Drape the pastry over the rolling pin, or just pick up the sheet of greaseproof paper if using, and lay it over the tin to line. Roughly trim the edges of the pastry - I like to leave a little over hang and trim it properly once it's all baked as the pastry can shrink a little in baking.
- Chill for another 30 mins in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 190C/370F.
- Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 10 mins.
- Remove baking beans and bake the pastry case for a further 5 mins until the bottom is dry to touch.
- Reduce oven temperature to 150C/280F.
- Beat the eggs and yolk with the sugar, then stir in the cream until smooth. Stir in the lime zest and juice and juice from half a lemon.
- Pour the filling into the pastry case until half way full, transfer to the oven shelf and pour in the rest of the filling
- Bake for 30 minutes, until the filling is just set (will be first to touch with a slight wobble to it).
- Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack
- Dust with icing sugar just before serving
- Store covered in the fridge for 3-5 days
- Don't throw away the eggs whites that you're not using. I used mine to make meringues, but you can also freeze them for later use.