Category Archives: Baking

When life gives you lemons… Make Tarte au Citron

It would seem that we can’t stop making pastry at the moment, so here’s another tasty treat to brighten up your week and help bring some lovely lemony sunshine!

There’s a million and one tarte au citron recipes around but I feel it’s important to remember the origins of this lovely recipe and searched round for a recipe that I hoped would be the real deal and came across this lovely Raymond Blanc recipe from his wonderful website – if a foodie Frenchman can’t get a tarte au citron recipe right then there’s simply no winning! I particularly like this recipe because of the inclusion of egg yolk in the pastry which makes it gorgeously rich and crumbly and helps to seal it from the very liquidy filling when its first poured into the case.

INGREDIENTS

SWEET PASTRY
120g unsalted butter, diced (at room temperature)
75g sifted icing sugar
250g plain flour
3 egg yolks
2 tbsps water

LEMON FILLING
5 medium free range eggs
150g caster sugar
85ml lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
2 tbsps finely grated lemon zest
150ml double cream

Mix the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl to a cream and beat in just 2 of the egg yolks (watch out for this – I chucked all 3 in and had to perform a rescue mission on one that hadn’t broken yet!). Add the flour and rub it into the mix to achieve a dry crumby texture. Once it reaches this point, very gently gather it together, gently forming it into a disc. Wrap this in clingfilm and set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes whilst making the lemon filling. When putting the pastry to rest in the clingfilm, I always place the disc between two very large pieces of clingfilm (big enough to cover the size of the tart tin you are using) as this means that to roll it out you can keep it between the clingfilm, eliminating the need for flour and ensure the pastry doesn’t dry out or become overworked.

To make the lemon filling, mix together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and zest together for a few seconds, add the cream and then whisk for a further few minutes. Then set this aside in the fridge. Wait until the 30 minutes resting time for the pastry is up and roll it out (between the clingfilm sheets!) until its pretty thin (but with no holes!). Peel off one half of the clingfilm and use the clingfilm covered pastry to gently lower the pastry onto a 24cm (91/2 inch) loose bottomed tart tin, being careful not to stretch it and gently push the pastry into the edges of the tin. I don’t own a loose bottomed tart tin, in fact my bottom was firmly in place(!), so I devised a cunning solution to remove my tart from the tin once it had cooked by folding greaseproof paper into two long strips and placing these in a cross in the tin with a bit showing at each end, as you can sort of see below:

This worked remarkably well (with a little help from Jack as four hands were best for this job!). The picture also shows the slight translucency of the pastry which is a useful sign that it’s not too thick! Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to help prevent it from shrinking too much when cooking. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c/gas mark 3.

Once the pastry has rested for 30 minutes, line the case with foil and fill with baking beans. I don’t own baking beans, as much as I’d like to, so I used dried chickpeas which did the job wonderfully… As pointed out by Cat in her recent Pecan Pie post, once these have been used its best to make sure that they are kept labelled as baking beans as they’ll be rubbish to cook with!! Bake the case for 10 minutes then remove from the oven and remove the beans. Then put the case back in the oven for a further 20 minutes sans beans.

Towards the end of the 20 minutes baking time, pour the lemon filling into a saucepan and warm it very gently – this is an important step to reduce the time the tart needs in the oven (an avoid burnt pastry!). Be very careful not to let it scramble. After the 20 minutes of further baking time is up, take the case out of the oven and brush the inside of the case with the remaining beaten egg yolk, returning to the oven for 1 minute – I was skeptical about this because it doesn’t look so appetising at this point but it creates a great seal on the pastry so that when the liquidy lemony filling is poured in, the case stays good and crisp! Now turn the oven down to 140c.

Once the mixture is warm, pour into the pastry case. This is best done in the oven and done very gently as the mix should be quite liquidy. Bake this for 25 minutes only – it should be barely set when you take it out as it continues to set more during cooling. Then comes the hard part – leave it for an hour (yes a whole hour!!) before eating. I’m possibly a bit hypocritical saying this as we just couldn’t wait and had our first pieces about 20 minutes after it came out the oven but it was too soft and was perfect after a night in the fridge! Once this painful waiting period is over, dust all over with icing sugar and dive right in!

Hannah

Bread: The Search for an Everyday Loaf

My bread making has been a long time in the making, first taken up during my undergrad dissertation writing as a way to stay sane during long hours in the house. After about three or four attempts at a Cob Loaf I had still not managed to stop it from being undercooked in the middle. This lead to ‘project bread making’ being shelved for a long time and I returned to my normal cooking. However after I found myself at a loose end over Christmas, injured and unable to do much other than work, I decided to step back into the apron and give bread making a second chance.

I decided to start off by banishing my nemesis, the same Cob Loaf recipe by Paul Hollywood, which had defeated me before. Alas this time I came up good and slowly improved in my attempts. I have to say the single best tip I picked up, which seasoned bakers will know is obvious, is that wetter is better! My only previous successful forays into baking had been flatbreads where dry is good. Secondly being aware of the temperature you are letting the dough rise at is important, kitchens can vary in temperature greatly and thus ‘room temperature’ is essentially a useless term. So while a thermometer is definitely overkill  a conscious thought of the temperature (e.g. are you wearing a jumper?) helps replicated good results. The recipe for this cob loaf can be found on the BBC and is definitely worth a go, makes a great sandwich!

The one issue with this bread was that I do sometimes get bored of white bread, and wanted a slightly healthier wholemeal loaf I could make more regularly. Importantly though it also had to be a simple recipe that wouldn’t put me off regularly making it. Therefore after much playing around with quantities and various recipes, including 100% wholemeal loafs, I have decided that for me this recipes hits the perfect balance. Not white mush but at the same time not a dry disappointment.

The ingredients for a good sized loaf are:

  • Strong White Flour – 400g
  • Strong Brown Flour – 280g
  • Salt – 2 tsp
  • Yeast – 8g (2.25 tsp)
  • Butter – 28g
  • Warm Water – 400ml
  • 1 Egg

And to turn this into bread I suggest you:

This photo is taken after I'd eaten most the bread and remembered to blog it...

  1. Mix the flour in a bowl and add the butter, cubed, into the mixture. Then rub the flour into the butter until it becomes a bit ‘breadcrumby’
  2. Add the salt and yeast (opposite sides of the bowl so the salt doesn’t kill the yeast) before adding half the water. Mix it together before slowly adding the rest of the water. Could need less/more depending on the batch of flour etc. It should be a relatively firm dough, but if in doubt remember wetter is better! (think I stole that saying from a Dan Lepard book Catriona has)
  3. Need the dough for 10 minutes… put some effort it!
  4. Return to a bowl, cover with damp tea towel, and leave in a warm place (like an airing cupboard) for 1.5 to 2 hours… essentially it should at least double in size.
  5. Knock it back and shape into however you want it to be.. but remember this effects the cooking times. I tend to go for a fat baguette/loaf thing which makes good sandwiches and is easy to toast. Probably between a 1ft and 1.5ft long placed on an oiled baking tray.
  6. Cover with damp towel again and leave at room temperature for 40 minutes… do not put somewhere too warm! The second rise should be slower. Also this is a good stage to put the oven on, get it nice and hot… about 230 degrees.
  7. Once the second rise is complete put some slices in the top and paint with an egg glaze… makes a lovely shiny crust!
  8. Place in the oven for 15 minutes at 230 degrees, then reduce to 200 degrees for a further 15-20 minutes. (remember that these numbers and times can change slightly with different ovens, so don’t be put off if the first attempt isn’t spot on, its almost always edible!)
  9. Leave to cool for 30 minutes before eating… if you can.

Any questions.. just ask!

Jack