Gooey filling you want to scoop out with your fingers – Relive your childhood with these delightful lemon tarts!

Published: March 30, 2018
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I love lemon tarts so much I believe they should have their own emoji! PHOTO: ARHAMA SIDDIQA

If there is one thing in this world that can make me forgive and forget everything and start from scratch, it is lemon tarts. If anyone ever wants me to erase the memory board and wipe the slate clean, all they have to do is present me with these beauties!

I love lemon tarts so much I believe they should have their own emoji! The tangy flavour of sourness, playing around with just the right amount of sweetness, can change anyone’s mood around.

One of my favourite childhood memories would be my mom driving me home from school, stopping at the local bakery and getting both of us a lemon tart each. Now the thing is, my mom (still) likes the tart shells and I like the gooey creamy filling, so we always struck a deal – she could have my tart shell, if I could have her filling. And boy the filling was good! Especially – and yes, all you ‘knives and forks’ people out there can gasp in union – the fun in scooping the filling out with your index finger, which is definitely one of the best feelings in the world! That’s how I still eat it.

As I grew up and the baking madness kicked in, I decided to try my hands at these little devils. And believe me, they are the easiest things in the world to make. In fact, homemade lemon tarts have their own irreplaceable taste – a uniqueness market tarts cannot emulate.

They originate from France, and are called tarte au citron over there. In my opinion, three words sum up lemon tarts: Pretty. Straightforward. Sweet.

Before I start, I want to reveal that in my first attempt for this blog, the pictures came out amazing, but the lemon tarts tasted awful. Shameful as it is, I would have gone forward with it anyway, had it not been for four people who I happened to meet that day, who made me question myself and made my conscience cry out. I would like to dedicate this blog to them to express my gratitude for making me realise the error I would have made otherwise. These tarts below are my fifth attempt, and I am happy to say, they are perfect.

Sometimes, even the easiest of dishes can become a challenge for you.

Before we start, please note that you can use a tart pan for more aesthetics. I, however, used a muffin pan, because even though I would dearly love to get a tart pan, my mother does not let me turn her kitchen into a crockery shop. So I have to exercise restrain, and make do with what I have. I decided to go simple here, but you can garnish them with glazed cherries, sprinkles or even strawberries (since they are in season right now).

Ingredients:

For tart shells:

Flour: 200gm
Butter: 125gm, cold cut in small cubes
Salt: a pinch
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Egg yolks: 1
Water: 2 tbsp, ice cold

For Filling:

Butter: 50gm
Lemon juice: ¼ cup
Eggs: 2 beaten
Sugar: 125gm

Method:

For tart shells:

1. Sift flour and salt.

2. Rub in butter with fingertips until mixture resembles bread crumbs.

3. Stir in sugar. Then add in the beaten egg yolks and water. Do not over knead, otherwise pastry will turn stiff.

4. Roll out and cut out with a round cutter.

5. Arrange each one in the mould and prick with knife or a fork, so the pastry doesn’t rise.

6. Bake in the moulds for 15 min, or until golden.

For the filling:

1. Melt butter on a low medium flame.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until thick and smooth. This can take 10 to 15 mins.

Note: before the mixture starts getting thick, force it through a fine sieve to remove any impurities or curdled egg. Return to double boiler to thicken it.

3. Let it cool before filling the cases.

Enjoy!

All photos: Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

The author is a LUMS and University of Warwick Alumnus and is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). She calls herself a bibliophile,a dreamer and an avid foodie. She also has a food website at www.chakhoous.com

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    Now that’s a bit of a coincidence because I remember my wife telling me that she would stop off and get lemon tarts for my son on the way back from school because he, like his father, loved them…..but he would slowly lick up the inside and land up with a yellow dot on the tip of his nose …… but that was long ago.
    If I go further back as a child I remember our cook making them on a coal fire with a metal contraption that worked as an oven and they turned out brilliantly, but then he had a special gift.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    the gooey filling is to die for and in Pakistan only , other places its a bit too tangy and not scoopable if thats a word!
    ok I have heard of baking in a pressure cooker but never this technique I’ll note this down because ab toa life in convenient but standing Ovation to the people who found ways or jugaads in other words! any other cool I’ll say methods he used or any totkas from him?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Jugaad ….. I simply love the word, its so much more expressive than improvise and we in South Asia just have to be the tops at jugaad.
    My mother, who never cooked, taught him to cook from books when he was very young…..and he obviously was a good learner. He hade just about everything from pancakes, roast beef Yorkshire pudding with mint sauce, biryani to die for, Parsee dhansak the likes few achieve, Scotch eggs, chicken ala-Kiev, crab curry that was popular with many….and on and on……josh I’ve become nostalgic.Recommend

  • Patwari

    As usual, very eye appealing and tasty. User friendly recipe, of course. Easy to make.
    However, ‘yours truly’ is a crumpet idolater, specially on visits to the Emerald Isles. Or
    on trips to the hometown of the mother of Prince Charles/wife of Duke of Edinburgh.
    Next, strudel, next, just plain danish pastry, next, pound cake, next, carrot cake. next donuts…
    Preferably in the comforts of Brown’s Hotel or Sketch’s. Which are a hop and a skip away from
    Grosvenor Square. You can watch the Queen hanging out her laundry in the big balcony.
    With just the right blend of Tetley’s or Earl Grey’s or Twinings ‘chai’, [with sugar and milk please].Recommend

  • Patwari

    If you go any further back you will be in Tippu Sultan’s reign.
    Or was it Ranjit Singh’s?Recommend

  • Patwari

    This baking contraption is made of cast iron. It is a pot with a lid.
    It’s called a ‘dutch oven’. In the old days, the cowboys used it to do
    some simple baking on cattle drives. And even now, can be used on
    picnics or camping trips. For baking muffins, biscuits, [not the teatime
    biscuits, but the fluffy kind] loaves of bread. Put next to the fire, some
    coals on the lid, even heat distribution. There, the khansama got it right.
    On grouse shooting, teetar or batair hunting, you can wrap the birds in
    clay, put them in the campfire, after the clay hardens, you break open
    the the molds, inside is a fully cooked, moist, juicy, delectable, bird.
    As the truffle eating French say, bon appetit, monsieurs, mesdames.Recommend

  • Parvez

    :-) I’m not THAT old.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I noticed that for the tart shells you started from scratch with flour, butter etc …… I thought you could mash up Digestive biscuits and make a paste to line the tins. Then I asked someone who knows a bit more ( wife ) and she started laughing and said no, no, no….its done from scratch with flour etc.
    See I learn something new every now-and-then from your blog.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    STILL have to figure out your career!Recommend

  • Hamsid

    thank you thank you
    as do I from your and Patwari’s comments!
    eternally grateful!Recommend

  • Hamsid

    and I just googled dutch oven and apparently ( well according to wiki) they have a lot of names : Japan: Nabemono, South Africa: Potjiekos and Australia : Bedourie ovenRecommend

  • Hamsid

    I just googled some dishes which sounded unfamiliar to me : Parsee dhansak for example!
    and yes someone taught me this word last year, shameful as it is I didn’t know : Jugaad and I have been using it ever since as you say it is expressive!Recommend

  • Hamsid

    thank you thank you!
    Crumpets need to be made ! I will do my best !
    after lemon tarts danish pastry has to be my favourite- I remember COSTA coffee with a danish pastry was my go to breakfast for an entire term abroad
    and donuts of course are love and there are so many varieties apparently! must must must try them all
    see these comments give me much needed motivation !Recommend

  • Patwari

    Yikes ! In Pakland, name that ‘roghan wala pateela’,
    or ‘peetul ka pateela’ or ‘lohey ka pateela’…hmmm…
    or “Tippu Sultan ke zamaney ka pateela”….ahem…Recommend

  • Parvez

    I think we should stop now …… I’ll let you know in due course.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Interesting ……Recommend

  • Parvez

    I’m throwing this in to give you some recipe ideas.
    I just discovered something quite bizarre called a ‘ pizza – paratha ‘ ….we tried it out with the children and it was a hit.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Have absolutely no idea what ‘Jugaad ‘ means.
    Perhaps it means…’wash the dishes now’
    or ‘chop the onions’ quicklike.
    or ‘feed the parrot, pronto’Recommend

  • Hamsid

    it means invention , same person was actually reading a book JUGAAD and thats where I learnt all about it, its a nice readRecommend

  • Parvez

    Google : Jugaad is finding a low cost solution to any problem in an intelligent way.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Like… ‘necessity is the mother of invention’…?
    Sounds like Sanskrit. As the redneck said to the dothead…
    Ain’t about to learn me no foreign tongue twisting…’boli’.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Well, see, er, hmm..went looking for pakora/chat vendor
    when God was handing out brains. So, there. It’s moot.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Try Mulligatawny Soup. One of the best ‘yours truly’ ever tasted.
    It’s an English soup, with desi origins. Supposedly very popular
    during the British Raj. And still is. In Vilayat.
    First time ever tasted it, was, where else, at the Sindh Club in Karachi.
    [Sindh Club is a left over relic from the Raj era, still plodding along]Recommend

  • Parvez

    Book called ” Jugaad Innovation ” by Jaideep Prabhu, Navi Tadjou and Simone Ahuja…or was it some other one ?Recommend

  • Hamsid

    yeap this very one, have you read it?Recommend

  • Hamsid

    i had this in Turkey and Iran. I thought it was a middle eastern thing no? Didn’t think the origins lay with the BritishRecommend

  • Patwari

    Surprised they called it ‘Mulligatawny’ soup in Turkey and Persia.
    But since it is a very well known name/recipe, evidently they did.
    It is strictly an English/South Indian recipe. Different versions
    of course. Including using garam masala. Choice of chicken/lamb/fish
    or vegetarian [vegetarian is the best one, in this man’s humble opinion.]
    What happened to the ‘google’?Recommend

  • Parvez

    No……picked it up because the title was intriguing but then decided on something more serious.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    I haven’t read it only the part till the mitti cooler but I will this week because I turn into a book hoarder so NEED to curb that habit !Recommend