sweet little tarts with lemon curd or fresh fruit

We hope to find a farmers market that will let us sell sweet pastries, so far at Brecon they already have 3 pudding and cake stands so we have agreed to go savoury.

I enjoy making these tarts and they did go down well. They would be ideal for BBQs as they sit on a plate and only need a fork or spoon to be eaten. They also round off a meal with a summery desert, even if the sun refuses to shine. The lemon ones can be made the day before so less stress when you’re cooking for others. If you make the fruit ones the cases can be made the day before and stored in an airtight container.

The pastry recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I have several of his books and they are generally very good.

200gms plain flour

50gms icing sugar

125gms butter

pinch of salt

2 egg yolks

Makes 1 x 24 cm (approx) big tart or about 8 to10 10cm small ones (the curd filling will do 6 small tarts comfortably)

To make your pastry put the flour in a bowl and sift in the icing sugar, add the salt. Cut up the butter into small pieces as you add them to the mix.

Now make sure you’ve washed your hands and start to rub the butter in. Stop when you have a breadcrumby looking mixture. Add the two egg yolks and start to mix it together with your hands. It should make a very yellow pastry ball when it’s all come together. Roll it in clingfilm or a sealed food bag and put in the fridge for an hour or more.

When you are ready to cook preheat the oven to 190 degrees/ gas 5 then flour your rolling surface well as the sugar makes the pastry sticky. Roll out the pastry to be a bit bigger than the tin. For the large tart lay it over the tin and gently ease it to rest on the base, use a sharp knife to remove the excess from around the edge of the tin. If you use small cases find a saucer to cut round and roll out smaller amounts of the pastry. Then gently ease the pastry in, it requires a bit of man handling to get the pastry to sit in the tin but this pastry is very forgiving and you can make repairs. Don’t roll the pastry too thin as it will be too brittle. Think of the thickness of a commercial pastry base, not as thick as a biscuit.

Put the tins in the freezer for 10 minutes and place a baking tray in the oven to heat through whilst the pastry firm ups in the freezer.

Take out the bases from the freezer and prick them with a fork. Cut out oversize square(s) of baking parchment or foil and rest in the cases. Pour in a good amount of baking beans or enough rice to put a bit of weight on the base so it cannot rise up when cooking.

Cook for 15 minutes near the top of the oven on the pre heated baking tray. Take them out and let them cool for a minute then remove the foil or parchment and baking beans. After a few more minutes tip out the pastry cases very carefully as they are brittle

I used two different fillings, a lemon curd or fresh fruit on a cream base.

The lemon curd filling was a Hugh recipe but I did have to strain the egg out and add cornflour to get it thick enough. So here is my altered recipe.

I make the curd whist the pastry is cooking.

100gms unsalted butter

175gms caster sugar

3 lemons

2 eggs and an extra egg yolk

2 teaspoons cornflour

6 teaspoons of double cream

Cut the butter into little cubes and put in a saucepan, tip in the sugar. Grate in the zest of the three lemons and then add their juice.

Stir this together over a low heat. Hugh says that after 10 minutes it should thicken but I had it cooking for about 20 minutes and the egg yolk started to cook so I had to strain it through a sieve. (If yours thickens without help then let me know)

I put mine back in the pan. Put the cornflour in a glass or cup and add a couple tablespoons of water to it. Mix up until it is a runny paste . If it’s still stiff then add a couple more spoons of water. Add this to the lemon mixture and put it back on the low heat.

You need to keep stirring until it thickens and then give it a good beating. Put it aside to cool down for a few minutes and then stir in the cream.

Take the tart cases and divide the lemon curd between them.

Now you can leave them to cool and serve them as they are but for a touch of class I sprinkle icing sugar on the top and then use a blow torch to melt the icing sugar a bit. If you do this just let it catch, don’t go mad.

To produce the fruit tarts whip up some double cream and add a bit of sugar. Coat the bottom of the tart cases with the cream mixture and then arrange fresh fruit over the top. Such things as grapes and raspberries give good contrasts

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