Happiness in the lemon tree

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘Happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

 – John Lennon

There is something about the lemon tree that makes me happy. It is beautiful, like a piece of sunshine. Very fresh, healthy, optimistic and promising of colour, tang and versatility. From the tree’s unique bark, to the leaves, the blossoms and the actual lemons, all reek of the fresh and tangy scent that flirts with your senses, ever so gently leaving you refreshed and craving.

Have you ever smelled lemon and orange blossoms?

I can safely say, it is about the best fragrance that you can ever smell. Something about the lemon tree, to me, evokes roots and grounding! I remember my childhood, when I would go with my father to our farm, especially in spring when the trees have filled up with blossoms. The whole farm smelled like a sweet gentle breeze from heaven. When we used to stay there overnight, we used to make a campfire using the wood of lemon trees, and as we munched on oranges, pomelos, clementines, mandalinas (Mandarin) we would throw the skin onto the burning wood, and as the skin burned away, the smell of the caramelising citrus bouquet was just Divine! This time of year is the season of Lemon and oranges in Jordan. The farm is now in full production mode, and at this time of year I reminisce the Lemon Tree; the campfire, the rustic smell of wood against the wet earth. At this time of year I reminisce the earth from which I fed.

Perhaps from my love of the lemon tree and lemons, sprung my love for lemon desserts. I find lemon to be a very good ingredient for desserts. The use of these tart fruits in desserts teaches you how to achieve balance in your creations. The sweetness of a desert balances the tartness of the lemon, creating a fresh and even-handed experience for your palate. One of my most favourite desserts is a Lemon Meringue Pie, and so I had first decided to post the recipe here for you to try, and maybe see for yourself why I am so deeply in love with this pie. However, and since it includes the making of Meringue, which deserves a post on its own, I have decided to go for my best loved Lemon Tart first, as it is a base for the Lemon Meringue pie, and move on from there to another post on meringue, and the Lemon Meringue pie.

In the meantime if you wish to read a more in depth article on flaky crust (pie crust) then you will find it on this link.

This lemon tart is one that I make regularly, and back in the day – when I was catering – it was always in demand and my most selling dessert option. I am always complimented on its flavours, and always asked for seconds. Therefore I strongly recommend you give it a go, it will make you a star!

The tart’s shell is made out of a flaky crust, in which I incorporate lemon zest. The zest offers the essence of the lemon flavour, and does not tamper with the constitution of the crust. The crust is blind baked (baked topped with baking beans to weigh it down, for an even surface, free of air pockets), then fully baked till done. I then fill it with home-made lemon curd (recipe included). Then I spread a very thin layer of lemon syrup on top to protect the curd and prevent the formation of skin. I like the contrast of a couple of branches of red currants against the yellow of the curd, and a little green goes a long way, so I place a couple of fresh mint leaves on the side and sprinkle the whole with a light dusting of powdered sugar. Epic!


Serves: 12

For the Crust

  • 178g bread flour
  • 3g salt
  • 35g cold lard or vegetable shortening
  • 114g cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 40 ml ice water
  • 2 tsp lemon zest

For The Lemon Curd

  • 45g cornstarch
  • 340g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp DS Himalayan Pink Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • 5 egg yolks, beaten
  • 90 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest

For the Lemon Syrup

  • 6 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 75g caster sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, the zest and the salt together and place aside. Place the cold butter, lard and flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor and pulse till mixture resembles crumbs. Do not over mix. Add the water and pulse again until the mixture gets together and forms a small ball. Do not over mix. The fat should still be lumpy. Turn onto a work surface lined with parchment paper. Gather the dough into a ball, using your fingertips. Flatten slightly into the shape of a disk (this helps the dough to chill faster). Wrap with cling film, chill for at least 1 hour.

Make the Shell

Roll the dough in between 2 sheets of parchment paper (3 mm thick). Transfer to a lined loose-bottom tart tin, and gently smooth – with your hands – into place. Press the dough onto the fluted edges. Remove excess dough, and place the lined tin in the fridge for 30 minutes to cool.
Prick the bottom and sides of the tart shell with a fork. Line the top of the shell with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or baking weights. Blind bake in a preheated oven (375F) for about 15 minutes. Remove the beans and the parchment paper, return to the oven, and bake until the shell is light brown and baked through, about 10 minutes longer. Set aside to cool.

Make the lemon curd

In a heavy bottom saucepan, place the cornstarch, sugar, and salt and mix until combined. Add the water while continuously whisking. Cook over low heat, continuously whisking until the mixture comes to a boil. Simmer gently for 3 minutes, then add the butter and stir until its completely melted and incorporated into the mixture. Remove from the heat. Ladle a small portion of the cornstarch mixture into the egg yolks to temper them, whisk to combine. Add the egg mixture back into the cornstarch mixture and stir all until well incorporated. Add the lemon juice and zest to the mixture and stir. Place the saucepan back on the stove, and cook again on low heat stirring constantly until the mixture boils, continue cooking while constantly stirring for 2 minutes extra.

Immediately pour the curd over the cooled shell. Cover with cling film, to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate for several hours before serving to allow the filling to set.

Meanwhile make the Lemon Syrup

In a saucepan, place sugar and juice and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and allow to cool. Place in clean airtight container until ready to use.

Once ready to serve, gently remove cling film from the top of your tart. Release tart from the tin, and place on serving plate. Lightly pour a little lemon syrup on top of the filling and gently spread without breaking the top of the filling. Place a couple of branches of red currants in the centre, and place 2 fresh mint leaves on its upper side. Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve.


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Thank you for reading this post, hope you like it and that you will give this recipe a try. Come back again soon.

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