Tartes au citron et limon (second try)

Last time, I made my first attempt at baking tarte au citron (lemon tart). I made several mistakes, which I documented, so yesterday I had another go, learning my lessons from the first time. Here is the result:

In summary: this was a big step forward.

I actually made two tarts this time: one lemon and one lime, which is why there are two slices in the photo above. I improved on what I did last time in the following ways:

  • I used metal tins (which arrived the day after I made the first tart), which conducted the heat better giving me crispier bases. As a bonus, the tins have removable bottoms which made it much easier to get the tarts out and onto plates.
  • I used regular plain flour instead of the high-gluten bread flour that was all I had last time.
  • The pastry is thinner, but still thick enough to retain structural integrity
  • The edges of the tarts are neater, because I left the overhanging parts in place until after the first blind bake, slicing them off only after the pastry had started to dry out and shrink.
  • I was much gentler with the icing sugar, so it looks like a delicate enhancement rather than a disguise.

Here’s how they looked when freshly decanted:

I am left with two disappointments — or, perhaps I should call them, opportunties for further improvement.

First, as you can see from the slight burning on top, I left them in the oven slightly too long. That didn’t affect the flavour, but it did mean the texture was compromised: much less smooth than it should have been. Plus the charring is arguably a cosmetic defect (though I think a case can be made that it looks more interesting this way). You can see in the picture below that the texture is not smooth.

Second, I was disappointed that the two tarts looked basically identical. The greenness of the lime zest and juice was just overwhelmed by the yellow of the egg yolks, so that the lime tart looked just like the lemon one. I suppose that could be fixed on another occasion using artificial colouring. But I think (and Fiona agrees) that the lemon tart has a better flavour than the lime one anyway, so maybe I will just write that variant off as an unsuccessful experiement.

All in all, I’d rate this batch as representing good progress; but I am confident that I will really nail it properly next time.


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