Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Mini lemon curd tarts served for afternoon tea
Last Friday we travelled up north to a beautiful little cottage at the Lake of Menteith to begin the hen weekend celebrations for Abi, the most gorgeous of brides-to-be. The journey was eventful, to say the least. My train was late which in turn made us late picking up the (funky) hire car, half of us got lost on the drive up (due to misdirection, not our own fault of course), we were unexpectedly faced with a pot-hole ridden single track road snaking up the side of a mountain and the airbag light in Kirsty’s car kept coming on. However, good things come to those who wait and once we had finally made it to the cottage, unpacked and put “Now That’s What I Call A Wedding!” on the sound system, it was all worth it. What ensued was a night of food, cocktails, games, onesies, surprises, shots, more cocktails and extremely enthusiastic singing. It all began with an afternoon “tea” – I say “tea” because instead of pots of tea we had pots of Pimms. It’s how it should be done.

The girls had whipped up finger sandwiches, vanilla cheesecakes and red velvet cupcakes, and my personal offering was mini lemon curd tarts. I needed something that would keep well for 2 days and would also travel well. So instead of baking the lemon filling into the tart cases, I made separate tart cases and a pot of lemon curd. All that needed to be done at the cottage was to spoon the curd into the cases and adorn each one with a raspberry. Simple.

This is my grandmother’s recipe for lemon curd and it is delicious. As in, eat-it-from-the-jar-with-a-spoon mouth-wateringly delicious. It reminds me of spring because she, and now my mum, would make it around Pessach (or Passover) time when there is an excess of egg yolks leftover from the Pessach baking. The pastry recipe is a sweet shortcrust pastry from Katie Stewart’s Cookbook. This book is the bible in our kitchen. Although this description in The Telegraph’s obituary for Katie Stewart refers to a different one of her cookery books, the exact same applied to ours: “Unlike some recipe books from the early 1970s, Katie Stewart’s book remains timelessly useful. Alongside the glossily pristine compendia of Gordon Ramsay, Sophie Dahl, Ottolenghi et al, The Times Cookery Book is almost always recognisable from its broken spine and pages dog-eared and stained with the oil and gravy of many years’ service. Clean replacements are hard to find.”. Never have truer words been spoken.

The golden rule of pastry is “Cold, cold, cold”. Keep everything in the fridge until you need it, run your hands under the cold tap and perhaps even open a window. If you don’t have white cooking fat, then just use all butter, but it will enhance the flavour and crumbly texture of the pastry. I wanted my curd to be very set, so took it to a fairly thick consistency. Be careful when doing this as you don’t want the mixture to curdle.
Ingredients for homemade mini lemon curd tarts (sweet short crust pastry and lemon curd)
Ingredients (makes 12 tarts, with a little pastry and a half jar of lemon curd to spare)
4 tbsp cold milk
25g caster sugar
100g butter
15g white cooking fat
225g plain flour
A pinch of salt

100g butter
150g caster sugar
3 lemons, zested and juiced
3 eggs, well beaten

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6. Mix the milk and sugar together and put in the fridge.
Mixing the milk and sugar for the sweet short crust pastry - now chill in the fridge!
2. Chop the butter and fat into small squares and put this in the fridge too.
Chopped butter and white cooking fat for sweet short crust pastry - now chill in the fridge!
3. Weigh out the flour and add the salt.
Combining the fats with the dry ingredients to make a "breadcrumb" texture for sweet short crust pastry
4. With cold hands combine the fats with the dry ingredients, rubbing the ingredients together until you have a “breadcrumb” texture (similar to what we did for the crumble topping).
Sweet short crust pastry rolled into a ball - now chill in the fridge.
5. Add the milk and sugar and use a knife to bring the ingredients together, using a splash more milk only if absolutely necessary. Tip out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball with the minimal amount of kneading possible. Cover in cling film and rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
Rolling out the homemade sweet short crust pastry
6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry until about 5mm thick and cut circles to line 12 holes of a muffin tray. Prick the bases with a fork, line with small squares of baking parchment and fill with baking beans. If you don’t have ceramic baking beans then any dried bean or rice will do the job.
Lining a 12 hole muffin tin with homemade sweet short crust pastry
7. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and paper and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Homemade sweet short crust pastry cases after baking
8. Melt the butter in a bain marie (or bowl over a pan of water to you and I) making sure the water in the pan does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
Melting butter in a bain marie for lemon curd
9. Add the sugar and mix. Add the eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix well. At this point I like to use a whisk.
Ingredients for homemade lemon curd - eggs, sugar and lemon zest and juice
Whisking the lemon curd in a bain maire over a gentle heat
10. Stir over a very gentle heat until you have achieved the consistency you want – usually this is when the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remember that the mixture will thicken a little more once cool.
Heating the lemon curd mixture until it coats the back of a spoon
11. Spoon the curd into two small jars or a single large one. Leave to cool and then keep in the fridge for up to 10 days. If you can keep your hands off it for that long.
Jar of homemade lemon curd
Homemade lemon curd with sweet short crust pastry cases
12. When ready to serve, spoon the curd mixture into the tart cases and top with a raspberry or redcurrants.
Afternoon tea for Abi's hen do, with homemade mini lemon curd tarts
We still have a little lemon curd leftover, which is gorgeous spread on top of toasted crusty bread and served with coffee for breakfast.

I had a fantastic time at the hen do and now can’t wait for the wedding to roll around in just over 3 weeks’ time. Better get dress shopping…eek!…

11 thoughts on “Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

  1. Anna- I happened upon your blog by seeing your comment on The Londoner’s latest post… and I’m so glad I did! Your blog is delightful! I love how the recipes you feature are unique and come with a bit of a story. I’m definitely going to try out this one soon. I love anything lemon curd-y, and I’m so excited to have extra to spread on toast – my favourite!
    Love from America!
    x
    Lydia
    P.S. please check out my fledgling blog if you have the chance!
    http://bicoastalpostcards.blogspot.com

    Like

    • Hi Lydia! Thanks so much for your lovely comment, it has really made my day! I think the best recipes come with a back story and it only seems fair to share it.

      I love the pictures on your blog…though they are making me very jealous. I haven’t been to the west coast of the US for years now, but I have family there so I really need to make the trip again soon.

      If you get round to making the lemon curd then do pop back and let me know how you get on!
      Anna

      Like

    • Thanks Scarlett, I really appreciate it. You should definitely give the lemon curd a go. It is so easy and the results are divine. Let me know how it goes if you do!
      Anna

      Like

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