- 1 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
- a pinch of salt
- 3 oz chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus extra for greasing
- 3 oz caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 to 4 tablespoons chilled water
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup caster (superfine) sugar
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 1/4 oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2/3 cup lemon juice (3 or 4 lemons)
For the pastry, put the flour, salt and butter into a bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs, then add the sugar and mix to combine. Add the egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of the water and knead lightly and quickly until smooth, adding as much of the remaining water as you need, to bring it together into a dough. Wrap in cling film (plastic wrap) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas 4. Lightly butter a 22cm (8in) tart tin or springform cake tin. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a circle about 28cm (11in) in diameter, large enough to line the base and sides of the tin. (Roll out a few biscuits with any leftover pastry.)
Using the rolling pin to lift it, lower the pastry into the tin. Level the sides with a small sharp knife to about 3.5cm (1 3/8 in) high, and press firmly against the sides of the tin so they adhere. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork in a few places and line the pastry with baking parchment, bringing it up and over the sides to completely cover the pastry. Fill with baking beans, pressing them into the corners.
Bake for about 15 minutes until the edges of the pastry are firm. Remove the baking parchment and beans and bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the pastry base is pale golden. Reduce the oven temperature to 160ºC / 325ºF / Gas 2.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Whip the eggs and sugar together in a wide bowl until quite thick and pale. Whisk in the lemon zest, then scrape in the butter. Add the lemon juice, whisking to combine. Pour into the pastry shell (if using a springform tin, stand it on a baking sheet to catch any drips).
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the filling is just golden around the edges and set but still a little wobbly in the middle. Rotate a couple of times.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool, then slide onto a serving plate. Serve in slices, plain or with a dusting of icing (powdered) sugar and a blob of thick cream.
About this recipe
“This is my friend Luigi’s lemon tart. He used to make it many years ago when he lived and worked in a hotel in Mougins. Actually, he told me even Picasso came along to eat the tart (he liked it warm). I love a lemon tart that is generous on the lemon, like this one.” -- from Provence to Pondicherry: Recipes from France and Faraway by Tessa Kiros, photos by Manos Chatzikonstantis.
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