Lemon tart comes in various delicious guises. We love Tess’s version with a lemony pastry base and some pistachio nuts for colour and texture.
I am always an enthusiastic food experimenter, but my adversity to adhering recipes often provides a bit of a problem, especially when baking and patisserie making. Namely it’s my lack of commitment to scales … I seem to favour of the ‘pinch and pray’ method. (take a handful of flour, throw it in and hope for the best) It’s unpredictable, a bit like Russian Roulette. You never know what you are gonna get, but every now and then you surprise yourself and something sublime emerges.
This is exactly how this tart began…
A few weeks ago during a rootle around my freezer for some sweet pastry, I stumbled across a batch of Lemon Shortbread dough, made circa 2012. Looking for a use, I ended up trying it out as a pastry base for a Lemon and Vanilla Meringue Pie. The result was a bit of a crisis. Even though I ensured it incorporate extra flour into the cookie dough, the fat to flour ratio was too high, which meant the majority of the pudding ended up as crumble, or shared with the bottom of my oven.
That aside the taste was great, with the full lemon on lemon, from the pastry and filling. So last week when I made it again I followed the recipe… (gasp) of my foolproof sweet pastry, to remake this beauty with the addition of a zingy Lemon and Vanilla Bean Custard filling, topped with my favourite nuts for colour and a bit of texture.
I’m pretty confident this version is better than anything M&S are gonna churn out any time soon.
Lemon Pistachio Tart
200g plain flour
80g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
Zest of 2 lemons
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs lemon juice
75g roasted and shelled pistachios (this time I used 50g pistachios, 25g pine nuts)
200ml whole milk
200ml double cream
150g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
30g plain flour
a pinch of salt
Place flour, sugar, lemon zest, salt and butter into a food processor and blitz until crumbly. Add the egg yolks and lemon juice and pulse just until dough holds together. (Add a tablespoon of water, if needed.) Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, bring it into a neat disk shape. Wrap tightly in plastic and chill in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
Grease a 9-10 inch baking dish, with a removable base, or line with parchment paper. Once the dough is firm, roll it out until it is the thickness of a pound coin. Gently place it into the baking tin and trim the excess pastry, making sure to leave an inch of overhang. Prick the pastry base with a fork. This prevents air pockets from creating bumps. Return the pastry to the freezer for 15 minutes to relax.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Cover the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill the dish with baking beans. Put the pastry dish in the oven and bake blind (cook the pastry with the beans in) for 15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and return the dish to the oven for a further 10-12 minutes, or until pastry is looking golden. Leave the pastry to one side to cool.
Add the milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest, vanilla and salt to a large bowl. Add 1/3rd of the cream mixture to another bowl with the flour. Mix together until smooth, then add the flour mixture to the cream mixture, whisking until smooth.
Add the cream mixture to a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring the cream mixture to the boil, whisking continuously. Once the mixture has boiled remove from the heat and add to the pastry case. Scatter over the pistachios (and pine nuts, if using)
Gently transfer to oven and bake just until filling puffs up, 15-20 minutes, depending on the oven. Leave the tart to cool on rack to room temperature, then chill in the fridge until the filling sets, it should take about 3 hours.
Serve cold. It’s delicious with fresh berries.
Inspired? For more lemon recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.