One of my all-time true loves has to be a good lemon tart. By good, I mean really tangy with fruity lemony-ness and egg-rich curd as smooth as silk. The ratio of curd in the filling to pastry is of the utmost importance if you ask me. Sometimes, if the pastry is too thick and cumbersome, it ruins the whole tart. A perfect one needs shortcrust pastry, with a hint of sweetness, and the ability to hold together yet melt in your mouth at the same time. I haven’t posted anything in an age because I have had a rough few months with morning sickness (well, that’s what it’s called but for the unlucky few it’s more like ‘all day and all night sickness’). I wasn’t able to keep any food down for weeks on end – miserable for someone who lives to eat. Anyways, this tart will always hold happy memories for me as it was made on week 20 of my pregnancy, when I was feeling able to cook again, and was just the thing to get my appetite back. It’s almost THE only tart you’ll ever need but I think I’ll try the recipe again with a few more tweaks to the pastry. It’s important not to overcook the pastry when blind baking as when the tart shell is baked with the filling for a second time it will get quite brown. Because passion fruit isn’t in season all-year round, I used jarred passion fruit pulp in syrup that can be bought from just about any good supermarket.
Lemon passion fruit tart
For the pastry
240g plain flour
pinch sea salt
75g icing sugar
110g cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 tsp poppy seeds (optional)
finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 egg yolk
2–3 tbsp ice cold water
For the lemon passion fruit curd filling
3 eggs, plus 5 yolks
180g caster sugar
finely grated zest of 5 lemons, plus the juice of 3 lemons
11/4 tsp passion fruit pulp in syrup or 11/2 passion fruits, pulp scooped out
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
150g soft unsalted butter, plus extra to grease
First, make the pastry by combining the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub it into the flour, until you have a mixture resembling breadcrumbs. Stir in the poppy seeds if using, the lemon zest and egg yolk, then add enough cold water to bring the dough together into a ball. (Handle lightly so that your pastry doesn’t get overworked.) Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F and grease a 25cm loose-bottom tart tin. Grate the chilled pastry over the tin in an even layer and press the dough into the tin using your fingers. Grate more pastry fro the edges, creating an even layer about 3mm thick. You will have leftover pastry, that’s okay – just put it in the freezer and use it for another one of these tarts. Gently prick the pastry all over with a fork and bake for about 25 minutes, until light in colour but not golden. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack. Increase the oven temperature to 230°C/450°F.
For the curd, half-fill a large pan with water and bring to a simmer. Put the eggs and egg yolks in a heatproof bowl with the sugar. Place the bowl over the simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Use a hand-held mixer to whisk the ingredients in the bowl, until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon zest, juice, passion fruit pulp and vanilla seeds, whisking constantly to stop the eggs curdling. The mixture will start to thicken after about 7 minutes, at which point add half the butter. Whisk to combine, and once the butter is mixed in, add the remaining butter. Whisk to combine and then transfer the mixture to a jug. Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake for 12–14 minutes, checking frequently. The tart will be beautifully golden and speckled with brown spots when it’s ready. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Serve or chill in the fridge until ready to devour.
(Recipe from Nina St Tropez, W&N, 2014)