Ever heard of a double decker lemon tart?
I always ate lemon tarts filled with a curd type cream until I discovered a little café in Avignon (South of France) called Chez Françoise. I have no idea if this café still exists but their lemon tart was the perfect snack after a hard day at Uni. This tart was light and fluffy, a mixture of white eggs, ground almonds and lots of lemony flavour which I loved. I decided to create my own lemon tart to make a double decker version. In this 2 for 1 version, you get the traditional tangy lemon curd layer but on top, I added an extra layer of a light and fluffy lemon mousse.
I have used this recipe over and over again. Whether you want to make cute individual tartlets or a classy large one, this recipe will give you excellent results either way.
My double decker Lemon Tart
Ingredients for 8 little tartlets (9cm) or 1 big tart (30cm)
For the sweet pastry:
- 1 medium egg
- 125g unsalted butter cut in small cubes
- 250 plain flour
- 25g ground almonds
- 125g icing sugar
- a pinch of salt
For the lemon curd:
- Juice of 3 lemons and zest of 1 lemon
- 3 eggs and 2 extra yolks
- 100g unsalted butter
- 60g caster sugar
- 60g icing sugar
For the lemon mousse:
- 200g caster sugar
- 100g ground almonds
- 100g unsalted butter
- 3 eggs: yolks and whites separated
- Juice of 3 lemons and zest from 2 lemons
Start with the pastry as it needs to rest in the fridge for a little while. Mix the flour and butter together with the tips of your fingers until you create a crumbly texture. All the remaining dry ingredients and mix well. Add the egg and knead together with your hand until the pastry comes together: make a ball, wrap it in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Turn the oven at 180C. If you are doing a big tart, roll out the pastry and place over your tart tin, cover with baking parchment and fill with dried rice or lentils. If you are doing tartlets, cut the ball in 2 and roll it out with a rolling pin on a floured surface. Each ball should give you enough pastry for 4 small tartlets. Place your rolled pastry on top of 4 moulds and gently fold it in, by pressing hard in the corners. Leave some pastry hanging on the side all around the tin like in the picture. You might be wondering what these cubes on top of my pastries are… I did too when I saw the wooden toys of my little sister covering a tart being pre-cooked in the oven at the hotel of my grand parents. I was confused and nearly took them out of the oven, until the chef walked in and explained everything. He first said that he did ask her before taking them and she agreed to lend him a few of her magic wooden cubes (she was then 4) to put weight on the pastry so it doesn’t rise and make bubbles. Some people use dried beans or clay marbles but I decided to stick with the cubes for little tartlets. Blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes, then remove the cubes/lentils and parchment and bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and with a sharp knife, cut the excess of pastry from the edges to give you a smooth edge. The pastry is then pre-cooked and ready for the first layer: the lemon curd.
To make the curd, bring the lemon juice and zest to the boil in a pan. Take the pan off the heat and add the butter by whisking constantly, then add the sugar, the eggs one by one, and the yolks. Put the mixture on low heat and whisk until thickened. Watch it like a hawk, and as soon as it has thickened take it off the heat. Fill the pastry case half way up and let it rest while you prepare the mousse.
For the mousse, start by melting the butter and leave it to cool down. Remove any white scum that might have formed on top. Whisk together in a medium size bowl the yolks, sugar and ground almonds. In a bigger bowl, whisk the whites. Add the butter to the sugar mixture, then the lemon juice and zest, and gently fold in the egg whites. Fill the pastry case right to the top. It will form a little dome during cooking and look like it might overflow, but don’t worry it will go down again when it cools. Cook for 25 minutes at 180C until the top is coloured and it wobbles slightly when moved. Leave it to cool down and drizzle some melted dark chocolate on top, eat on its own or with chocolate ice cream…