Sunny food for a grey day: lemon and walnut tart


It really is grey today. The fort Belin, on the hilltop opposite, looks like a black and white photo of itself. I wanted to make something light and sunny, but still making the most of seasonal ingredients. The fruit bowl is overflowing with lemons. I can’t get enough of them, very cheap and seasonal at the moment. We’ve also got lots of dry walnuts and “pain de noix”, which remains after each press of walnut oil.There is still a surplus of puff pastry in the fridge, due to the “galette des rois” tradition, which is wearing on me now. I feel the need for a variation on the theme.The decorative petals have been hanging around for a while to be honest, after we bought them on a market in summer. Perhaps they should be used in more of a summery dish, but what the heck! They cheer me up. These pretty cornflowers and marigolds come from a local organic producer Carole Sutty, just up the road from Salins. She works mainly with herbs and plants that she gathers in the countryside, but also with her own production.We are very lucky in the region to have a network of local herbalists(with a recognised qualification from the local agricultural college). We are drinking gallons of herbal tea from La Serpolette, at the moment, still trying to undo the ravages of the end of…and beginning of the year festivities!


Another reason for making this tart: an inspirational, sumptuous description of a scrumptious, “classic” lemon tart, on Roger Stowell’s blog.

This tart is extremely comforting: its light and fluffy filling and the subtle creaminess of the walnuts, perfectly complimented by the fruity bitterness of the lemons.The only thing I would change is to use sweet, shortcrust, rather than puff pastry. I think it would set-off the fluffy filling much more effectively.

What you need:

A sheet of all-butter puff or preferably sweet, shortcrust pastry

4  heaped tablespoons of ground walnuts or grated and sieved “pain de noix”

4 heaped tablespoons of caster sugar

2 beaten eggs

1 tablespoon of walnut oil

1 tablespoon of runny honey

The juice of one lemon

2 tablespoons of double cream

Simply beat the ingredients together until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Blind-bake the pastry sheet or disk. This prevents the dreaded “soggy-bottom” syndrome!You can use ceramic baking beans, but I tend to just prick a  lot of holes in the pastry(not too deep). It prevents the pastry from having bubbles. The holes simply cover themselves over when the pastry cooks anyway.

When the edges have only slightly hardened, after about 10 minutes in a hot oven, place the mixture into the tin. I use a proper tart tin, but a high edged baking tray would do if you don’t mind having an oblong tart!

Swirl around the tin, until even.

Place in the oven for around 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the mixture has risen.

Decorate as you like and serve, preferably warm.