As I write this post there is snow swirling around my window, a fire burning beside me and the most delicious perfume of lemon tart in the house. I also have a huge vase of mimosa flowers sitting on a table because it is that time of year.
Mimosa is a wonderful flowering tree that grows in the South of France, and from late January through to March the markets are full of fragrant deep yellow branches, freshly picked from the hills above the coast, and vendors stands piled high with fresh lemons and oranges that ripen at the same time. I am in Normandy, where no mimosa grows, but I have a nearby florist who loves this yellow bloom as much as I do.
These pictures are taken from my Entertaining book, when we shot a tea table with lemon tarts, paired with vases full of mimosa, and I thought you may enjoy my favourite lemon tart recipe.
To make one large 23cm tart of 6 individual tarts you will need:
I portion of your favourite sweet pastry
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
¾ cup, 170g or 6oz butter
¾ cup , 150 g or 5.5oz sugar
Juice of four lemons
Zest of one lemon
This is surprisingly simple to make, and I prefer to keep the flavour as pure as possible avoiding cream or flour in the lemon and egg mix.
Heat the oven to 350°F or 180°C and blind bake the pastry case or cases until golden brown.
In a saucepan, heat the butter, sugar, lemon juice and zest, along with the eggs and egg yolks that you have beaten in a bowl beforehand.
Heat gently until the butter is melted, stirring and whisking all the time. You don’t want the mix to overheat because there are a lot of eggs here and they could scramble. Once the mix has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon remove from the heat.
Using a fine strainer, pour the lemon mix while it is still hot, through the strainer and into a bowl. You can use a spoon or a spatula to push it all through. Pour your lemon curd into the pastry base and pop back into the oven for about six minutes. You want the curd to be just set but still quite soft.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. This tart can be eaten warm or cold. Rather than making a meringue layer for the whole tart, serve each slice or each individual tart with a tiny meringue.
All photos by Franck Schmitt for