In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, lemon curd had a prominent place on the afternoon tea table as the preferred alternative to jam. It was a precious choice as well because, unlike jam, the egg-based curd needed refrigeration for long-term storage. Here, spooned into small, crisp tart shells, it becomes the ideal filling for a quintessential tea-time offering.
FOR THE TART PASTRY
- 155 g (11⁄4 cups) plain flour, plus more for rolling
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 140 g (10 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon ice-cold water, or more if needed
- 250 g (1 cup) Lemon Curd (page 134)
- Fresh berries, thin lemon slices,
or edible blossoms, for decoration
- Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
makes 16 small tarts
- To make the tart pastry, in a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar
and salt. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and, using your fingertips, two knives, or a pastry blender, work in the butter until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and water until blended. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir and toss gently with a fork until the flour mixture is evenly moistened and forms clumps. Feel the dough; it should be just damp enough to form a rough ball. If necessary, mix in a few more drops of water to achieve the correct consistency. Turn out the dough onto a large piece of clingfilm and use it to cover the dough and shape into a smooth disc. Refrigerate the wrapped dough for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.
- Have ready sixteen 7.5-cm (3-inch) tartlet tins. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough about 6 mm (1⁄4 inch) thick. Using a round pastry cutter about 7.5 cm (3 inches) in diameter, cut out as many rounds as possible. One at a time, transfer the dough rounds to the tartlet tins, gently pressing the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of each tin and trimming off any overhang. Gather up the trimmings, press together, reroll, cut out enough rounds to line the remaining tins. Place the lined tins on a baking tray and place in the freezer until chilled, about 30 minutes. Using a fork, prick the bottom and sides of the pastry lining each tin. Bake the tartlet shells until golden, 12–14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
- Carefully remove the cooled pastry cases from the tins. Fill the cases with the lemon curd, spreading it in an even layer. Decorate with the fruit or flowers, dust with icing sugar (if using), and serve.