If you’re a regular reader here, first of all, thank you so much, and secondly, you’re probably aware of my predilection for a little urban foraging (see these marshmallows). And of course by ‘urban foraging’ I mean, technically, stealing from other people’s plants. Which brings me to the overhanging lime tree that creeps over the fence of my yard (yassss) and the pretty trees full of flowers that are just down the road from my house: you can find elements of both in this post!
This tart is a GUARANTEED crowd pleaser. I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s not into a citrus tart, and there seems to be something about arranging beautiful fruits in an off-centre arrangement that brings even the staunchest dessert-shunners to their knees (That’s my goal in life. TO THEIR KNEES!). The filling here is based on a Food 52 adapted version of Tartine bakery’s lemon cream, which itself is extremely similar to Pierre Herme’s lemon cream, which I first read about in a book by Dorie Greenspan. So as always, in cooking, there is nothing new under the sun, unless you’re Dominique Ansel.
I used a mixture of lemon and lime for my filling because there happened to be a cluster of juicy, perfect, early-season limes dangling tantalisingly over my fence, and what am I going to let them just drop to the ground? Have we met? Hells no. Plus, I love the additional bitter tang that the puckery little limes bring to this creamy, buttery filling. Speaking of which, this citrus cream is bonkers. If it didn’t sound so gross, I’d say it reminds me of a thick, sweet, totally un-savoury mayonnaise. In reality, it’s basically a classic curd (as in lemon curd, passionfruit curd, etc), but instead of cooking the butter with the remaining ingredients it gets blitzed in at the end, resulting in a thick, seriously lush creamy texture.
So while there are a number of fiddly elements to this tart – making the pastry base, making the cream – it kind of feels super easy, because once those two things are done, it’s just a case of slapping the cream into the shell, and then smoothing and decorating. Both the tart shell and the citrus cream keep really well overnight, too, so you can save the fun job (assembling) for when you’re ready to eat! Plus, feel free to use whatever fruit you like to decorate this tart. This mix of berries was beautiful, but I think the strawberries were particularly delicious, and would be great all on their own. No matter what you do, I declare this THE BEST Lemon Lime Cream Tart of all time.
- 1 + ⅔ cup (250g) plain flour
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup (50g) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 1 stick (115g) butter, cold
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- 1 egg
- Juice of 2 lemons + 2 limes (150ml/~2/3cup of juice)
- 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
- 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
- 1 stick + 6 tbsp (200g) butter, soft
- Berries or soft fruits, to decorate
- Place the flour, salt and icing sugar into a food processor. Cut the butter into small cubes, and add to the flour mix. Pulse until the mixture looks like damp sand.
- Add the vanilla and egg and blitz until the pastry juuuuust starts to clump.
- Tip the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface, pat into a flat disk, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge for about an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Roll the pastry out, quite thinly - about as thick as cardboard and use it to line a 9inch/23cm tart tin - if the pastry tears, just pat it back together, it's a very workable dough. Place the pastry into the freezer for 10 minutes.
- When the pastry is chilled, line it with baking paper and fill with baking beans (or rice, or dried beans you don't want) and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the paper and beans, and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Set aside to cool completely.
- To make the citrus cream, place the citrus juice, sugar and eggs into a large heatproof mixing bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to the consistency of thick custard or mayo - about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
- When the mixture has cooled for about 5 minutes, either place into a blender and blitz in the soft butter piece by piece, or incorporate a piece at a time using a handheld blender (I like using a handheld blender). When the cream is ready it will be buttercup yellow, and thick like a good quality mayonnaise.
- Spread the citrus cream into the cooled tart shell, decorate with berries or fruits as desired and serve!