When Life Hands You Lemons……

In my travels through the food blogosphere this week I came across two recipes for old favorites. I was sure that the lemon lovers of the family would be delighted with lemon cake and lemon tart. If there is one dessert that could be considered my signature, it would be lemon tart. I use a buttery cookie-like dough for the crust and fill it with a tart lemon curd filling. My family prefers the tart without meringue, so I usually garnish it with a little whipped cream. I was curious about this new recipe that added heavy cream to the filling and baked it at a low temperature, like a custard pie. The lemon cake recipe is a departure from my usual in that it also uses heavy cream, more eggs, and less butter than the standard pound cake type lemon loaf.
Anxious to give each of these recipes a try, I stocked up on lemons and cream and headed into the kitchen. The results were good, not perfect, but certainly delicious. Although I did encounter some problems with both recipes, I would certainly make each of them again. And hopefully next time the results will be perfect.

Lemon Cake (by Raymond Blanc from Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets)

For the cake
5 eggs
300g/11oz sugar
140ml/5fl. oz double cream
3 lemons, zest only
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
1 pinch salt
80g/3oz unsalted butter, melted
240g/8 1/2oz plain (all purpose) flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

For the apricot jam glaze
3 tablespoons apricot jam, warmed and put through a sieve.

For the lemon glaze
1 lemon, zest and juice
150g/5oz icing (confectioner’s) sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
Lightly butter a 26cm x 9cm x 8cm/10in x 3 1/2in x 3in loaf tin and line it with greaseproof paper. (This is a pan size that I do not own. I chose to use a 9 x 5 x 3 inch standard size loaf pan. The problem I encountered was that the pan was very full and the batter rose in a high dome as it baked. It didn’t overflow, but it did take considerably longer to bake than the recipe indicates. My advice, if you use a 9 x 5 pan, is to fill it only about 2/3 full and bake the extra batter as a cupcake or two.)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cream, lemon zest, rum, salt and butter.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl then whisk it into the egg mixture until you have a smooth batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. The cake is cooked when a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the tin, turn onto a cooling rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes. This will allow the steam to escape before you glaze the cake. Leave the oven turned on.
Brush the cake with the warmed apricot glaze and leave for five minutes while you make the lemon glaze.
For the lemon glaze, mix together the lemon juice, zest and icing sugar.
Heat the mixture in a small pan, or in the microwave, until the sugar has dissolved and you have a syrup.
Brush the lemon glaze all over the cake and leave for a few minutes to set.
Place the glazed cake in the oven on a baking tray, turn off the heat and leave for 3-5 minutes to dry the glaze and turn it translucent. (I would probably skip this step next time; it seemed to just melt the glaze.)
Leave to cool to room temperature before serving.

This lemon loaf has a fine, tender crumb and a rich flavor. The lemon glaze adds a bit of texture and sweetness to the cake.

Tarte au Citron (adapted from Marco Pierre White from the Times, London)
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
150g butter
75g icing sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk

For the Filling
4 large unwaxed lemons
5 large eggs
150g sugar
200ml double cream
To make the pastry, sift 225g flour into a mixing bowl with the salt. Cut the butter into chunks into the bowl and rub it into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sift the icing sugar over the crumbs. Stir. Lightly whisk the whole egg and egg yolk and add to the crumbs. Quickly work everything together and knead a few times. Dust with a little flour if it seems very sticky. Form into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. ( I found this pastry needed more than 1 hour to chill adequately. Plan for at least 2 hours of chilling time.)
Heat the oven to 180C/350F. Butter a loose-bottomed tart tin. (I used a 9 inch pan and the amount of pastry and filling was too generous. I was able to make 3 additional individual 4 inch tarts. Next time I will use a deep 9 inch tart pan with 2 inch sides.) Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Place it into the prepared tin and press it gently to line the pan. Trim the excess pastry and place a circle of parchment over the surface of the pastry. Fill the pan with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and lift out the parchment and weights. If the pastry looks pale and raw on the bottom, return it to the oven until it is cooked and lightly browned. In the meantime, separate one of the eggs required for the filling and lightly whisk the egg white with 1 tablespoon water. Remove the cooked pastry case from the oven and paint with the beaten egg white to seal. Lower the heat to 150C/305F.
To make the filling, remove enough zest from the lemons to yield 1 tablespoon finely grated. Juice the lemons through a sieve to make 175ml and stir in the zest. Whisk 4 eggs and the reserved egg yolk with 150g sugar, continuing until the sugar disappears. (The sugar should be completely dissolved. Check by rubbing a little of the mixture between your fingers). Lightly whip the cream and stir it into the eggs. Add the lemon juice and zest. Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake until the tart is just set but still wobbly in the middle. (I found that this happened sooner than the recipe stated, likely because of the size of pan I used. My advice is to start checking the tart at about 30 to 32 minutes of cooking time. Because this is a custard of sorts it will finish cooking and firm up as it cools. Try not to over bake it like I did.) Remove the tart to a rack to cool. Before serving, dust with icing sugar.

This is a lovely variation of lemon tart. The flavor is intense but the texture is smooth and lusciously creamy. I hope you enjoy both these recipes as much as we did.

Leave a Comment