Sunday, 2 November 2014

Lemon Bakewell Tarts

This is such a gorgeous recipe and a lovely variation on a classic Bakewell Tart. For anyone who loves lemon, these little tarts are an absolute must.

The combination of pastry flavoured with finely grated lemon zest, lemon curd and a lightly lemon flavoured frangipane results in a little cake-like tart which is packed full of zesty flavour.

A traditional Bakewell Tart consists of a pastry base (most commonly shortcrust pastry but purists would say that traditionally, it should be made with puff pastry and called Bakewell Pudding - NOT Bakewell Tart) and a layer of jam topped with an almond sponge or frangipane. Over the years I have made Bakewell Tarts using both shortcrust pastry and puff/flaky pastry, and on balance, I much prefer the shortcrust pastry, so the recipe that I give here uses it. I tend to use raspberry Jam when making Bakewell Tarts, because it's my favourite, but really ... any jam can be used. In the past, I have made an alternative to the traditional Bakewell using my homemade Seville Orange Marmalade where I also flavoured the sponge with some finely grated orange zest. This was wonderful served with some softly whipped cream laced with a little Irish whiskey.

Normally I prefer to make one large tart and slice it into portions for serving but here, I decided that I would make individual tarts. I toyed with using a cupcake tin to make them so that I would have very deep individual tarts but, in the end, decided to use the ancient mince pie tin that I inherited from my grandmother, which produced shallower tarts that I felt resulted in a better balance between thin pastry, lemon curd and frangipane.
I flavoured the pastry with a little finely grated lemon zest and filled the tarts with homemade lemon curd and a very lemony flavoured frangipane. Although it may not be traditional, I also drizzled over a small amount of lemon flavoured glace icing. I wouldn't include icing when making a traditional Bakewell as, in my opinion it makes everything just too sweet, but I think that it's lovely in this lemon version as the tartness of the lemon serves to 'cut through' the sweetness. If you prefer to leave the tarts plain, by all means do so.
You can make your own lemon curd, or use a good quality store bought version ... the only thing I will say In this regard is that lemon curd is actually very easy to make yourself and nothing tastes as good as homemade.
These little tarts were absolutely delicious and I really regretted not making a double batch of them because they were quickly snapped up by the hungry hoards at home.
This recipe is based on one that appeared in BBC Good Food Magazine - a magazine I have been buying for over 20 years and one that always contains delicious and reliable recipes. I have varied it a bit, but if you want to take a look at the original you can do so here.


Lemon curd:
4 unwaxed lemons, juice and finely grated zest
200g caster sugar
100g butter, cubed
3 large eggs plus 1 yolk, lightly beaten
Shortcrust pastry:
200g plain flour
50g icing sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
85g butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1-2tblsp cold water
100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of2 large lemons
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
85g ground almonds
25g plain flour
To finish:
150g icing sugar
Juice of ½ lemon


Lemon Curd:
1. Place the lemon juice, zest, sugar and butter into a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of just simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water.
2. Stir the mixture occasionally until the butter has melted. Add the eggs into the lemon mixture and which together until everything is well incorporated. Cook for about 15 minutes stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened.
3. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely (NOTE: this makes more lemon cure than you need for this recipe, but an excess can be spooned into sterilised jars and stored in the fridge for 2-3 weeks).
4. Sieve the flour and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl and add the lemon zest. Add the butter and using your fingertips rub it into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
5. Make a well in the centre and add the egg yolk and cold water. Using a fork, mix everything until it comes together and forms a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and briefly knead and shape into a ball. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. Place the butter, sugar and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, beat together until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Add the ground almonds and flour and mix in thoroughly. Set aside.
To bake the tarts:
7. Preheat oven to 170C/Fan Oven 150C/Gas Mark 3.
8. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out to a thickness of about 3mm. Stamp out rounds using a 6-7cm round fluted cookie stamp and use to line a 12 hole tart tray/patty tin. (This recipe makes about 18 individual sized tarts so you will need to use a second tray).
9. Place a teaspoonful of lemon curd on top of pastry for each tart and then top with a couple of tablespoons of frangipane, gently leveling the surface to neaten.
10. Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes until slightly risen and a light golden brown colour. Remove from oven and allow to cool in tart tray for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rick to finish cooling completely.
To finish:
11. Mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together to create an icing that is only very slightly runny, Drizzle over the tarts.

Makes 18-20 tarts .