Gaggen(au) for a Lemon Tart

On Tuesday I spent a very enjoyable lunch break watching a cookery demonstration at the Bulthaup showroom on Clerkenwell Road as part of Clerkenwell Design Week. They were showing off the Gaggenau Steam Oven and I have to confess…it was love at first sight! I left the showroom having tasted some gorgeous morsels all cooked in the aforementioned wonder oven including steamed asparagus with hollandaise, steamed haddock with a chilli and soy dressing on chinese vegetables, almond and raspberry cake and to top it off a lemon and ricotta tart, all of which the home economist whipped up in an hour!

Since my return from Paris I have been dying to try my hand at baking a tarte au citron and this alternative version really spurred me into action. It’s by no means an official french lemon tart and is more italian in style due to the inclusion of ricotta but it’s a good starting point and a very yummy one at that.

The demo lady cheated and used shop bought pastry but with a pastry aficionado for a mother I felt duty bound to attempt to make it from scratch. So I followed my mum’s favourite recipe from the be-ro book and used the filling recipe given to us at the demonstration.

Lemon and Ricotta Tart

(makes a 9 inch tart)

Sweet shortcrust pastry –

175g plain flour

pinch of salt

40g butter

40g margerine (you can use lard but I didn’t have any hanging around)

cold water (approx 2 tbsp)

20g caster sugar

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and rub in the fat with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. It’s good if the fat is cold but not too cold as it’ll just take you a lot longer to rub in. Now add the sugar and stir. Use a knife to cut/stir in the water a bit at a time (remember less is more) until it comes together into a stiff dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead lightly before rolling out. It should be about 30mm(ish) thick. Line your pie dish and chill in the fridge for a little while.

If you are lucky enough to own a steam oven then you won’t need to blind bake the pastry or in my case if you don’t have any baking beads or enough time then omitting the blind baking process isn’t the end of the world! Blind baking just adds a bit more crispness to the base of the tart. Instead I decided instead to follow the demo ladies advice and put a baking sheet at the top of the oven to block some of the heat from above and to put the tart near the bottom of the oven. Apparently this reduces the need for blind baking.

Filling –

250g ricotta cheese

25g icing sugar

2 large egg yolks

1 x 320g jar lemon curd

rind and juice of 1 lemon

icing sugar to dust

Preaheat you oven to 190 degrees.

Beat all of the filling ingredients together in a bowl and pour into the pastry case – it really is as easy as pie (excuse the pun)!

I have an admission to make…I realised as I was putting the pie in the oven that I had forgotten to add the icing sugar to the filling. BUT I was actually very happy with the outcome and I’d go so far as to say that I would omit the sugar again in future. The lemon curd adds just the right amount of sweetness to counteract the tartness (now that wasn’t even meant to be a pun) of the lemon.

Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 180 degrees for a further 25-30 minutes or until golden and set.

Allow to cool before dusting with icing sugar and serving.

The tart was delicious! A slightly crisper base wouldn’t have hurt so I’m going to invest in some baking beads for the next time…

One of my favourite childhood memories of baking with my mum was making little jam tarts with the leftover pastry once the pie dish has been lined. So to finish off I made some little treats for my housemates…

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