Friday, March 20, 2015

High tea vol 4: Lemon tart. Like, seriously great lemon tart.

I may have given it away with that headline, I know.
So far we've had :
So this is the last post - hurrah - Lemon tart. 
If you want the recap of the full menu see the first post here.


Lemon tart

(from Heston Blumenthal at Home)

I love lemon tart. A good lemon tart can be the classic end to a perfect meal. Taken by the lovely photo in the book, this was a requested recipe for the high tea.
Understandably... just look at that photo:
Fortunately for you... this recipe is also available online here.
So this has the following steps:
  1. Make your pastry in a mixer. 
  2. Chill
  3. Roll it out, line a tray
  4. Chill again
  5. Blind bake the pastry
  6. Make the filling
  7. Bake in the prepared case
  8. Blowtorch sugar on it to serve.
So yes, there are eight steps, but nothing super complicated. Two of them are passively done without any effort on your part.

Make your pastry in the mixer

So I forgot to take photos of the first two steps. I will say if you are feeling slack and think you'll skip making the pastry for that ready rolled freezer stuff? Don't.The difference really is worth the minor trouble.

Fortunately, it wasn't terribly interesting anyway.

You mix the flour, butter and salt in a mixer. 

Then blitz the icing sugar and egg yolks in a food processor. Add in some vanilla seed and lemon zest for flavour to the egg mix

Add the  egg mix to the flour, let it moosh in until combined and then form into a dough lump rectangle.  


Refrigerate for an hour.

Roll it out then chill again

Roll it out between sheets baking paper, then into the freezer. I do wonder wether you could just skip the refrigeration, given you roll it out and freeze it again... but... assume some kind of optimal-gluten-achieving thing is going on. 

Blind bake the pastry 

So here we are now, having remembered this is to be a blog post, with camera in tow. (Forgive me, I was a little stressed about serving the birthday high tea, fancy cake to be done and so forth). 

Roll up your pastry like Heston shows to neatly roll out over the tart tin.

Have it be too stiff and of kind of break a bit. Don't say bad words, because the birthday girl is present.

Preheat your oven while you re-adjust the pastry to be more pastry like. Optionally stress about the thickness of the pastry, and then decide it will be ok, and  yo don't have time to be obessive about this right now.

Take Heston's excellent tip of scrunching up the baking paper a lot before putting it in the tart, so it settles nicely. Fill with coins (If you happen to have enough coins laying around to fill a tart tin) or beans, .. or brown rice because you had it on hand.

Blind bake the tart case. You can see I actually had quite a lot of pastry left over, so made mini cases also. Heston recommends you mix some of the leftover pastry with an egg yolk, to make a kind of pastry cement for filling the cracks. I didn't have any real cracks, making this step unnecessary. Interesting idea though.


Make the filling

Having taken out the weights, finish the tart off in the oven. Time to start the filling.

Over a water basin, heat up all the filling ingredients.


Warm the ingredients to 60 degrees.

Strain the filling mixture

Remove any errant bubbles that might mar the perfection of your tart. Ahem.



Bake in the prepared case

Having pre-warmed the oven again, put the tart in the tray. Make sure you've trimmed the top of the tart evenly.

Very carefully pour in the filling.

All the way to the top. This is not a time to get nervous or shaky.

With great care and trepidation, move the very full tart back to the oven. Optionally be mildly annoyed a a degree of minor sloppage.

Realise you still have quite a lot of mix left over, so put that in the oven too.

Check your tart with a digital thermometer to get that called-for-optimal wobbliness. Note the necessary hole, marring that perfection. Sigh.



Then, when you area ready to serve, you scatter it with unrefined caster sugar and blow torch it. I was absolutely going to do this, but was in such a flutter getting the food out for the party, I skipped this. So while not as pretty, it was still pretty.



This is easily the best lemon tart I've made. The flavour is great, the filling soft but not too soft. All that mucking about with the perfect inner temperature is worth it. The pastry has lovely balance of vanilla and lemon, not too hard to cut with a fork. A really great lemon tart, and one I'd definitely make again.

Guest verdict

Well, given it was a requested dish by the birthday girl, who then went on to eat 4 slices (a full third of a tart) I'd say a definite thumbs up. I am very partial to lemon tart myself, and I loved it. None was left over, the two remaining slices gleefully eaten by my brother-in-law with many expressions of pleasure as I was packing up. That's a a vote of confidence, I'd say?

Want more lemon tart?  Phil over at In Search Of Heston actually went to the trouble to make the two different versions of this dish.  You can see his (overachieving, Hermoine Granger-esque) project here.

Next post: A dish I've long wanted to try....


  1. Great post! I absolutely love this tart recipe. It took some practice to get right (I'm rotten at pastry and I totally buggered up the oven temp so it never cooked) but once you get the hang its SO worth it.

    I agree the probe dimple is an unsightly blemish, I think that's the real purpose behind the brulee finish - to hide it.

    Thanks for the recommendation - though the truth is I'm way less Hermione Granger and way more Luna Lovegood. Or, if we're being honest, Mundungus Fletcher.

  2. Love the post! I tried this as well and I completely agree - it's delicious. I couldn't get mine to match his picture though (not so much of the golden, semi-translucent, completely set filling) - wasn't sure if I 'pushed' the cooking far enough. But afterwards I wasn't completely sure that it was worth the effort - compared with (say) Stephanie Alexander's lemon tart which is simpler and almost as good...

  3. Stumble upon your blog and LOVE IT SO MUCH! I LOVE HESTON and your blog with the step by step not so perfectionist picture and honest comment make it actually look and feel do-able. Following your blog and a fan of yours already... I will try to make this.