Thursday, 15 April 2010

Baked lemon custard 'au lieu de la tarte'

I intended on posting about a my attempt at classic lemon tart adapted from a recipe in James Martin's book Desserts. Instead this was me after two unsuccessful late-night attempts at sweet shortcrust pastry:

Yes... well, I generally consider myself a good baker. But I always struggle when making my own shortcrust pastry (also known by its posh French name - pâté brisée). And this latest episode of Daniel vs Shortcrust Dough was a clear knockout win for the lifeless-yet-evil edible substance. I was tired, frustrated and above all very upset at the thought of having to toss the filling for the tart (which I've made earlier).

Just as I was wallowing in self-pity, thinking I've reached an insurmountable obstacle on my quest for home cooking perfection  (my wife called me a drama queen...pfffft), my mind suddenly went like: Hey... wait a minute... maybe there IS a way to save the filling (and me from total despair). How about just baking the filling WITHOUT the crust?

So instead an ode to James Martin's sweet cooking prowess (I promise I will have a go at more recipes from his book), I am proud to present my Get Out Of  [Baker's] Jail recipe: baked lemon tart filling with caramelised sugar crust.

Ingredients (serves 8)
  • 6 unwaxed lemons, zested and juiced
  • 7 eggs
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 350ml double cream
  • Demarara or caster sugar, for the caramlised glaze
  • Fresh raspberries, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C
  2. Break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk them lightly to break up the egg yolks
  3. Add the sugar, continue whisking, then add the cream and the lemon juice and whisk until combined
  4. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into another bowl (or large pouring jug), then add the lemon zest and stir to combine
  5. Divide the mixture between the eight ramekins, turn down the oven to 100°C and bake on a mid-level rack for about 1 hour or until the custard is set
  6. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 min to 1 hour) before serving (or putting in the fridge for later use)
  7. Right before serving, sprinkle each ramekin with 1-2 tsp of sugar (there should be an even layer of sugar crystals) and caramelise it using a chef's blowtorch (or place under a very hot grill in the oven). Serve with fresh raspberries.


  1. Suppose it is similar to Crème Brûlée apart from using egg whites as well as the yolks. Need raspberries now, having seen the pics!

  2. Yes. Crème Brûlée is just yolks, cream and sugar. Another difference is that you would place the ramekins in a roasting tinned filled with water half way up the side (of the ramekins) and bake them at 160°C for 20-30 minutes.

    I guess you could leave out the egg whites and turn this recipe into a lemon-y Crème Brûlée.