“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.
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!