Yuzu Tart – Yes please!
I never met a citron tart I didn’t like.
The sour-sweet-creamy-crunchy deliciousness of it all. I’m in a restaurant, and I scan the dessert list and in the back of my mind is always the question, ‘but would I like that more than a citron tart?’ Weird I know, but that’s how it is.
This version is a twist on the classic, simply replacing the lemon juice with yuzu for an extra layer of flavour, and giving this simple but killer dessert a hint of Asia.
Yuzu is a citrus fruit which resembles a lumpy lemon, and tastes like a mandarin mixed with a lemon mixed with a grapefruit with an incredibly floral smell. It’s in season during the early winter so when I needed a fix of this tart, I was a little out of luck (it was January). After searching the whole of Hong Kong for these rare little gems, I went to my local Japanese specialty store and they had some already squeezed 100% juice. Not exactly what I was hoping for, as already squeezed juices lack the freshness and magic of the real thing, but with this one, I was struggling to taste the difference. And seeing I needed a yuzu fix at the time, I figured ‘beggars can’t be choosers right?’
Breaking this recipe down, you’re making a fairly simple pastry case, baking that first, then filling it up with a mix of eggs sugar and yuzu (or lemon) juice with a splash of cream, and baking it until it sets. That’s all there is to it.
There’s no shortage of citron tart recipes on the internet (or pastry case baking techniques) and mine is a blend of the dozens I have read. You can make it as rustic or fanatically perfect as you like, I’ll leave that up to you, but either way it’s going to taste amazing.
If I could eat a dessert as a meal, this one would be it. But don’t take my word for it, try it out and see for yourself.
If I find some fresh Yuzu before the winter ends, I’ll do an update of this recipe. But for now…
- 175g Flour
- 25g Icing Sugar
- 100g Butter
- 1 Egg yolk
- 1 tbsp Water
- 4 large eggs
- 100ml double cream
- 200g caster sugar
- 160ml yuzu juice
- 9" loose bottom flan tin
- Rolling pin
- Baking paper
- A food processor is perfect for this because it's quick, and the butter doesn't get time to go soft. Cold butter is what you want for this one, otherwise the pastry is difficult to work.
- 1. Add flour, icing sugar and butter into the food processor and blend it until it looks like sand.
- 2. Add the egg yolk and water and blend again until it comes together into much larger lumps or a ball even.
- 3. Dump it out onto a lightly floured bench and press together a couple of times until it comes together into a smooth ball.
- 4. Press it into a thick, flat-ish disk about 1.5cm thick, wrap it in cling wrap and put it in the fridge for half an hour or so until it’s chilled and firm.
- 5. Lightly butter your flan tin while you’re waiting and dust with flour. Shake out the excess. Don’t waste the 20 minutes, spend it posting your new skills on Instagram.
- 6. Get a 30cm square of baking paper and lightly dust with flour, and using your rolling pin, roll out the pastry until it’s about 2-3mm thick , or a circle of 30cm in diameter.
- 7. Now flip that pastry into the tin and peel off the paper. Gently ease it in and leave to some overhang at the top. Make a little ball of the excess pastry and use that to push the pastry into the bottom corner of the tin.
- 8. Use a fork to gently prick the bottom of the pastry case (without stabbing holes all the way through) , then cover it gently and put it back in the fridge to chill again for 30 mins.
- 9. Preheat the oven to 200º (Fan forced oven180º)
- 10. Take it from the fridge, line the inside of the pastry case with baking paper or aluminium foil and fill it with uncooked beans or rice to weigh it down while you blind bake it.
- 11. Into the oven for 15 minutes. Then take it out, remove the paper and beans and bake it again for another 10 mins or so until it’s a little bit golden.
- 12. EXTRA STEP - some people do, some don’t. After the pastry case is cooked, I like to give it a little coat of egg on the inside to seal it. Then put it back in the oven for a minute or two to dry that out.
- 13. Take the pastry case out, turn down the oven to 160º and get to work on your filling.
- 14. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the sugar and cream, then add the Yuzu juice. Make sure it’s IN THIS ORDER, or your eggs might curdle.
- 15. Pour the filling into the tart about half way, put it in the oven, then top it up.
- 16. Bake it for about 25-30 minutes until it’s set around the edges but still wobbly in the middle. The middle should seem a bit runny, but not still liquid.
- 17. Leave it in the tin to cool completely before attempting to take it out.
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‘FOR THE FOOD NERDS’
How much do we love a crumbly tart pastry? It’s right up there with cute kitten videos on the internet.
What makes it work?
- Well, the breakdown is that flour and egg have the proteins that want to build structure and make things hold together. Flour and water mixed together will make gluten (the stretchy web of proteins that makes breads and doughs chewy and delicious – and strong). The sugar and the butter do the opposite and want to break things down and keep everything soft and crumbly. Mixing the butter and flour first coats the flour with a little layer of fat. When the water is added and the gluten develops, the protein strands are disrupted and they remain short (short pastry – small crumbly pieces). So it’s all about finding that balance of delicious, crunchy but soft texture while still only just holding it all together. And therein lies the art..
- Butter pastry like this one, has to be worked cold and kept cold. Cold bench, cold tools, cold hands. Living in Hong Kong, it’s difficult to make during summer. You have to crank up the AC to arctic. Which is why the food processor is great for this. The butter doesn’t get time melt. You’ll find that if the pastry get’s warm , it will become very difficult to handle. Put the bowl and utensils in the freezer for a few minutes before starting. You can use one of those pastry blenders , see here, so you don’t have warm hands touching the butter. Or I’ve seen chefs use two knives in a kind of scissor motion to mix the butter and flour together. I’m also investigating a recipe where you melt the butter first? But I’ll report back on that later.
- Chilling the pastry in the fridge before you cook it helps it hold it’s shape in the oven, and so too does filling it with the beans or rice during the blind baking stage. The butter doesn’t get time to melt before the flour has a chance to hold everything together. If you’ve ever attempted (like I have) to go from getting the pastry into the tin directly into the oven, you would discover the the sides of the pastry will fall away from the edge of the tin and collapse leaving no room for any filling. Trust me, take the time to chill it properly.
- I tend to seal the pastry case with the egg wash when I’m making something like this with a very liquid filling (and mostly because I’m not a master at baking). There’s two reasons for it. One is that it helps to separate the liquid filling from the crisp shell you just worked so hard on. And two is that it helps to stop the top of the tart cracking when it cools because the moisture isn’t being absorbed by the pastry.
- And last of all, you made a beautiful tart, it smells insane, and it’s cooling on the bench and big crack appears in the filling (ruining your instagram moment). Yes, it happens, more often than not. And this is because it spent too long in the oven before being pulled out. Knowing when you’ve cooked it enough, but not too much is the other art of this (and all tarts like this). While it’s in the oven, the edges will set first and swell upward a little, but the middle will still be wobbly. The centre should not be “runny” but more “wobbly” like soft jelly. That’s the time to pull it out of the oven because the residual heat will continue to cook it while it’s sitting on the bench.
Don’t worry if you get it wrong the first time, you’ll get the feel of it eventually. And if it does crack, just do like I do ad dress it with some fresh raspberries to cover the crack 😉