Lemon Curd & Strawberry Tart
Let me just start by saying that my daughter is very picky about dessert. She doesn’t appreciate cakes – there’s something about the texture of buttercream wedged between layers of sponge that she deeply dislikes – nor does she have an affinity for chocolate otherwise than in the shape of a bar or of course, an Easter egg. She’s not into meringue or custards and anything with a mousse like texture will not touch one single taste bud on her tongue. Also, upon tasting cotton candy for the first and what seems like probably the last time, she declared it is the most disgusting thing she has ever eaten. She does however enjoy banana bread or baked fruit, plums and apples especially, served with either ice-cream or sorbet and weirdly enough, any kind of fruity raw-vegan cake and I believe this is probably due to a combination of her love for fruit and the ice-cream evoking cold temperature these types of cakes are served at. And maybe the weirdest of all, she is a big fan of really sour lemon curd, especially when it’s snuggled in a nice tart, though she will never eat the crusty edges; and that is also the only instance she will gladly accept meringue should it sit atop said tart.
The thing with the lemon tart started when she was about two and a half and she watched me making a lemon meringue tart that I was going to serve to our guests after putting her to bed. As I settled her into bed to prepare her for sleep, she started crying so hard for no apparent reason and through her wailings, I could hear her repeating the word “cake”. It took me a while to realise she was asking for a slice of tart. So, I took her to the dining room and sat her at the table with the rest of the guests and gave her a slice and not for a second did I believe she would ever like it. But she did, she actually devoured the whole thing and she was delighted with it.
And while I still make Tarte Citron Meringuée every now and then and she still very much loves it, I do make another version of lemon dessert that goes even further in pleasing my daughter’s palate, since it also contains strawberries and those are among her favourite fruit. I sometimes don’t even bother making a crust and instead just serve the curd in shallow bowls, topped with strawberries or mixed berries. But I really think thisPâte Sablée crust is very nice, so if you have a little time on your hands, it’s truly worth going the extra mile to make it.
Lemon Curd & Strawberry Tart
For the crust (Pâte Sablée):
115g/1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
A pinch of fine sea salt
90g/2⁄3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
15g/3 Tbsp almond meal (ground blanched almonds), sifted
240g/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
In a large bowl, soften the butter and mix with the salt, powdered sugar, almond meal, egg and 60g/1⁄2 cup flour. When everything is mixed well, add the rest of the flour and mix until just combined. I like to mix this dough by hand, but feel free to use a spatula or a spoon.
Flatten the dough into a disc and place it between two sheets of baking paper. With the aid of a rolling pin, roll the dough between the sheets until you obtain a thickness of 3mm/0.1 in. Chill the dough for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
When the dough has hardened, peel off the sheets of baking paper. Fit the dough into a buttered 20cm/9 in. tart case, preferably with a removable bottom. Trim edges flush with rim and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 160C/325F. Prick bottom of tart all over with a fork and bake for 20 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack until completely cooled.
For the Lemon Curd:
2 egg yolks
150g/3⁄4 cup sugar
100g/7 Tbsp unsalted butter
Finely grated zest and juice from 2 organic, unwaxed lemons
Lightly beat the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together with a whisk.
In a heavy bottomed pan set over low heat, melt the butter along with the lemon zest and juice. Once the butter has melted, stir in the sugar and egg mixture and keep cooking gently, stirring with a wooden spatula constantly, until thickened. Do not leave unattended, as it will stick to the bottom of the pan.
Remove from the heat, strain into a bowl using a fine mesh sieve and let cool to room temperature. Pour into a jar and refrigerate until using. Lemon curd will keep in the fridge for 3 months if jar is unopened and 1-2 weeks after opening.
500g fresh strawberries, washed, dried and hulled
60g/3 Tbsp strawberry jam, preferably sugar-free, mixed with 1 Tbsp water and slightly warmed in a saucepan
Spread lemon curd in tart case, then lay strawberries in the curd. Brush strawberries with the jam glaze and transfer to the fridge to chill until glaze sets, anywhere between 1 to 6 hours. Release tart from pan and serve on a platter or serve in the dish.