What’s So Special About Pakistani Bakery Style Lemon Tarts?!
Come summer and lemon flavour desserts and drinks climb up the popularity charts for how refreshing and appetising they taste and smell. Lemon tarts are a global favourite. And this particular bakery item, like most others, is not a local creation. It came to us through the British. So you must be wondering what’s so special about Pakistani Bakery Style Lemon Tarts then! Well, like many other foods that were brought to us through foreign influences, we have adopted the lemon tarts as our too and given it a local colour.
Local sweets and desserts are extra sweet, brightly coloured and generous in the use of ghee, butter and cream. We have made the lemon tarts to fit the bill. If you visit any local bakery, you will always find the mini version of lemon tarts, never the big full sized one, lined up in the pastry counter as happy sunny smiling little faces looking up at you. The tart shells are not just filled with lemon curd, they have a tiny mountain swirl of lemon curd inside. So when you bite into a mini tart, it’s a lot less of pastry and a lot more the buttery creamy lemon curd.
Let’s Talk About That Lemon Curd!
Yes, there is a lot of nostalgia involved too but then you can’t beat the taste of a lemon curd which is thickened only with butter, eggs and sugar. There is no flour or cornflour involved at all to dampen the zesty lemon. It’s rich but then oh so good! 😋 While you’ll see lemon curd of light lemony colour mostly around the world, we make it bright yellow, very sweet and quite sour – basically loud with bold flavours as is our national temperament 😄
It’s extra thick too so that it can be piped out into a tiny mound. And then on top, always decorated with maraschino cherries – the only part that I DO NOT like about the locally sold tarts. Maraschino cherries, as you might know, are bleached and then artificially coloured. That really ruins the taste and texture of the cherries for me and turns them to plastic. So in my homemade Pakistani Bakery Style Lemon Tarts, I skip these cherries and decorate my tarts with either fresh cherries or any available contrasting coloured fruit or simply with mint or lemon leaves from my garden. You can serve them without any decor and they won’t suffer even a teensy bit for that!
Tips: you can freeze the tart shells in a ziplock bag for a long time. Just thaw them on countertop before filling when required.
Lemon curd can be made ahead and stays good in clean jar in refrigerator for many days.
1/2 cup unsalted butter (cold)
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 + 2/3 cups plain flour
For Lemon Curd
3 large eggs
4 tablespoons fresh or bottled lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter (softened)
yellow food colour a few drops or pinch
This Is What You Do:
Cut butter into little cubes.
Add cold butter, egg yolk, baking powder, sugar to a processor and whizz till blended or beat together by a hand whisk in a large mixing bowl.
Add plain flour in it. Run the processor in short bursts for 4-5 times. Or mix by hand till the dough resembles wet sand.
Take it out on a lightly floured surface. If the mix is too dry, add a teaspoon of cold water at a time, till it comes together. DO NOT KNEAD IT.
Cover with a cling film and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven at 175° C.
Once the dough is chilled, flour a work surface and dust a rolling pan with flour. Roll out the dough into 1/4 inch thick flat round.
Take a cookie cutter or glass and cut out small rounds. Gather the remaining dough and roll out again. Repeat till you have used all the dough.
Place the dough rounds into lightly greased muffin tray. Press them down into bowl shapes.
Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or till the tart shells are light golden in colour. Don’t overbake or the pastry will go hard.
Remove from the oven and scoop out from the muffin tray while still warm.
Completely cool before piping in the lemon curd.
For Lemon Curd:
Add all the lemon curd ingredients in a saucepan. Use non stick pan or a pan with heavy base so the sauce does not stick to bottom of pan.
Use a hand whisk to mix and stir the sauce. Cook on medium low heat and stir continuously to keep it from burning at the bottom. Stay vigilant because it burns very easily and not only leaves a taste in the sauce but tiny particles as well that don’t look nice when piped into the tart shells.
Stir until its thick. It will take almost 10 minutes. Stay patient.
Sieve it throw a fine sieve while it’s still hot.
Cover it with a cling film and cool at room temperature or refrigerate in an airtight jar till needed. It thickens more when cools down.
Fill the cooled down lemon curd in a piping bag with a star nozzel and pipe it with a circular motion into the tart shells. You can simply use a plastic bag too without nozzel. Or even just fill the tart shells heap full with spoons if you don’t care about the tarts looking fancy.
Makes 12 Lemon Tarts