Mary Berry’s Tarte au Citron

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The History

I must admit, I have really struggled with finding the origin of this recipe.  No amount of support from Twitter has been able to support either.

Thanks go to my friend Jane, who found a couple of French websites as reference.   But alas, the story isn’t very exciting.

It’s literally that Tarte au Citron, is of Mediterranean origin.  There does not seem to be a record of it’s origination or whom was the first to create it’s creamy lemon filling as we know it today.

But it could have originated in the city of Menton, in France, which has actually held a Fete du Citron, annually since 1930.  It has been the emblem of their city since it arrived from China via the Arabs.

fete-du-citron-1948-9b6ad

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My experience

I have made fruit tarts before, but nothing as successful as this. Mary, you are a star. Your recipe is faultless.

Honestly, this tart is a thousand times better than any soggy bottomed attempt you can buy in the supermarket. I was so impressed. The pastry was really delicious. It had a lovely “snap” to it. The lemon custard, not too lemony, just right. I accompanied the tarte with a berry compote and some cream and it was just divine.

It’s very economical too.  With very simple ingredients, it’s ideal for all those on a budget, but looking to impress family and friends.

All I can say is bake this tarte. Next time you have visitors, you must feed them this. It was just delicious. And. It keeps really well. I made the tarte two days prior, so it’s ideal for a dinner party. One week later, and wrapped in a little tin foil in the fridge, the left overs are still doing well.

I may treat myself to a slice now. Oh what the hell!

Remember to watch the GBBO videos prior to attempting the bake.  This is to ensure you know all the tips of the trade, which really create the perfect bake.

You can find Mary’s video for her Tarte au Citron here.

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The Recipe

1-2 hours preparation time
30 mins to 1 hour cooking time
Serves 8

This tarte can be made up to two days in advance, but don’t decorate it until just before serving.

Ingredients

For the Pastry

  • 175g/6oz plain flour
  • 100g/3½oz cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 25g/1oz icing_sugar
  • 1 free-range egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp cold water

For the filling

  • 5 free-range eggs
  • 125ml/4fl oz double cream
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 4 lemons, juice and zest
    icing_sugar, for dusting

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Parchment paper
  • 23cm/9in loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin – buy one here
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring Jug

The method

  • To make the pastry, place the flour, butter and icing sugar into a food processor. Pulse briefly until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then add the egg yolk and water.
  • Pulse again until the mixture sticks together in clumps then tip onto a work surface and gather it into a ball with your hands. Knead the pastry just two or three times to make it smooth. If your butter was a bit too soft, the pastry might be too. If so, wrap it in parchment paper and chill for 15 minutes.
  • Grease a 23cm/9in loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin.
  • Lay a piece of parchment paper on the work surface. Remove the base from the tart tin and lay it on the paper. Using a pencil, draw a circle onto the paper 4cm/1½in bigger than the tin base. (I would recommend watching the video for guidance on this bit)
  • Dust the base of the tin with flour. Place the pastry ball in the centre of the tin base and flatten it out slightly. Roll out the pastry, still on the base, until it meets the circle mark. As you are rolling out, turn the pastry by turning the paper. Gently fold the pastry surrounding the tin base in towards the centre.
  • Carefully lift the tin base off the work surface, drop it into the tin, then ease the pastry into the corners and up the sides of the tin, pressing the overhang lightly over the rim. If the pastry has cracked at all, simply press it together to seal. Press the pastry into the flutes of the tin then lightly prick the base with a fork, but not quite all the way through. Place the pastry-lined tin on a baking tray, cover loosely with cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  • Remove the cling film from the pastry case and line with foil so it supports the sides, then fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 12-15 minutes, until the pastry is set, then lift out the foil and beans. Carefully trim the excess pastry from the sides using a sharp knife, holding the knife at a sharp angle and slicing away from you. Remove the trimmings from the sheet. Return the empty pastry case to the oven for another 10-12 minutes or until it is pale golden and completely dry. Set aside to cool while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
  • For the filling, break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk together with a wire whisk. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and whisk again until they are all well combined. Pour the filling mixture into a jug, then into the cooled baked pastry case. To prevent it spilling as it goes in the oven, pour in most of the filling so it almost fills the tart, carefully sit the baking sheet and tart on the oven shelf, then top up with the rest of the filling to completely fill it. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until just set but with a slight wobble in the centre.
  • Leave to cool slightly then, when the pastry seems firm enough, remove the tart from the tin. The easiest way to do this is to place the base of the tin on an upturned can or jam jar and let the outer ring fall to the work surface. Transfer the tart to a serving plate and serve warm or cold, dusted with sifted icing sugar.

Recipe courtesy of bbc, full of more advice and videos

How did you get on with this technical challenge?  Please send me photos of your completed bakes for inclusion in the humble technical challenge gallery, so we can show off to Paul and Mary.

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The Taste

This tarte was a taste sensation.  The pastry was divine.  I honestly believe by grandad would have been so proud.  The filling was creamy, with a little bite, but not too overwhelming.  I wish I could have given slices to all those I love, but alas only a few were lucky enough to partake and I greedily, I must admit, devoured the rest.  Whoops!!!

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