From the look of the lemon tree that I can see from my bedroom window, it’s the last days of the lemon season. There are just a few bright yellow lemons left at the top of the tree, way out of reach. The yellow ones are being kept company by a whole tree of plump green lemons that are yet to ripen – and probably won’t for a month or so. But a month ago (and it has taken me this long to get around to writing this post!) the lemon tree was still full of reachable ripe lemons. At that time lemons were so bountiful that they were arriving in giant bagfuls, weekly on my doorstep, left by my elderly Greek landlord, and they were literally dropping from trees all around the neighbourhood. I preserved giant jars of the landlord’s lemons that now look like great jars of sunlight in the kitchen. So you’d think me crazy that I was still buying lemons. But these lemons were special, beautiful Meyer lemons with their smooth skin and orangey, bittersweet flesh. Sarah and I bought them from the local school fete one sunny Sunday and made this tart. The taste of the Meyer lemons was simply sublime but this tart can be made with regular lemons, or even, with a little less sugar, blood oranges. I’m going to find a very tall boy or if none can be found, a ladder and pick those last lemons.
Meyer Lemon Tart
for the lemon mix
4 free-range eggs
2 free-range egg yolks
180ml lemon juice
3 lemons’ zest
for the sweet shortcrust pastry
60g icing sugar
150g chilled butter
2 free-range egg yolks
a little egg wash
In a food processor or with your hands in a bowl, crumb the flour, icing sugar and chilled butter. Add the yolks and stop the processor (or kneading) when the dough comes together. Make the pastry an hour in advance and refrigerate, or freeze so it’s there ready when you want to start baking. With this pastry I normally use a halved amount for one tart tin, but with this tart it is simply a disaster if the pastry cracks – the whole mixture drips out and onto the bottom of the oven – so I’ve allowed a larger amount to make sure that never happens!
Pre heat oven to 150C. Grate the pastry into a buttered 24cm tart tin, with a removable base. Press the pastry into the tin evenly. With a pastry brush, brush a little egg wash over the pastry. Blind bake the shell for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool.
Cream eggs, egg yolks and sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients. Pour into blind baked tart shell. Bake til set. When set, take tart carefully out of the oven and brown top under grill, this should only take a minute or so.
This tart is better eaten the next day – as the next day the top of the tart gets a waxy shine to it that looks beautiful. The tart is also much easier to remove from the tart tin if it has had a little while in the refrigerator. Sarah and I didn’t wait long enough for our tart top to go shiny – so she has dusted it with a little icing sugar and we ate it straight away!