Lemon, pistachio and pine nut tart

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This sumptuous pistachio and lemon tart recipe from Tess Ward is a delightfully summery dessert, with a novel twist coming from the addition of pine nuts. The lemon crème pâtissière filling is much simpler to whip up than many other lemon tarts, so is well worth a go if you're not attempted one before.

First published in 2016

I am always an enthusiastic food experimenter, but my adversity to adhering to 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 I'd incorporated 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 filling

  • 50g of pistachio nuts, shelled and roasted
  • 25g of pine nuts, toasted
  • 200ml of whole milk
  • 200ml of double cream
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30g of plain flour
  • 1 pinch of salt


To make the sweet pastry, place the flour, sugar, lemon zest, salt and butter in 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 in the baking tin and trim the excess pastry, making sure you 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
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Cover the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill the dish with baking beans. Put the pastry dish in the oven and blind bake (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 golden. Set the pastry to aside to cool
Add the milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest, vanilla and salt to a large bowl. Add 1/3 of this mixture to another bowl with the flour and mix to combine. Return the flour mixture to the cream mixture and whisk until smooth
Add the mixture to a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, whisking continuously. Once it has boiled, remove from the heat and pour into the pastry case. Scatter over the pistachios and pine nuts
Gently transfer to oven and bake just until filling puffs up, for 15–20 minutes depending on the oven. Leave the tart to cool on a rack to room temperature, then chill in the fridge until the filling sets – this should take about 3 hours
Serve cold. It’s delicious with fresh berries
First published in 2016

Tess Ward is a freelance cook, caterer, food writer and budding TV chef.

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