Tarts are one of the most versatile and delightful desserts you can make at home. They are easy to prepare, elegant to serve, and can be filled with almost anything you like. But do you know where tarts come from and how they evolved over time? I will share with you some interesting facts about the history of tarts, and also show you how to make a delicious lemon tart with a buttery shortcrust pastry.
What is a Tart?
A tart is a baked dish that consists of a thin, flour-based dough filled with fruit, custard, cream, or other ingredients. Tarts are typically baked in a pan with fluted sides, and the dough is often pre-baked before being filled. Unlike pies, tarts have an open top that is not covered with pastry.
The Origins of Tarts
Tarts have a long history, and their origins can be traced back to ancient Rome. The word “tart” is thought to derive from the Old French word tarte, which itself is derived from the Latin word torta, meaning “twisted bread”. Tarts were initially made with a variety of fillings, including meats, fish, and vegetables.
Sweet tarts did not become popular until the Middle Ages, when sugar became more widely available. Today, tarts are enjoyed around the world, and there are many different variations. Common fillings for sweet tarts include fruit, custard, and cream, while savory tarts are typically filled with meats, cheeses, or vegetables.
Some Famous Types of Tarts
There are many types of tarts, but here are some of the most famous ones:
- Tarte Tatin: This is an upside-down tart that is made with caramelized apples. It was invented by two unmarried French sisters who ran a hotel in the 1880s. The tart is called “Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin” in France.
- Lemon Meringue Tart: This is a tart that is filled with lemon curd and topped with fluffy meringue. It is a classic dessert that originated in France in the 19th century.
- Bakewell Tart: This is a tart that is filled with jam and frangipane (a sweet almond paste). It is named after the town of Bakewell in England, where it was supposedly created by accident in the 19th century.
- Linzer Tart: This is a tart that is made with a nutty pastry and filled with jam. It is said to be the world’s oldest dessert, dating back to 1653 in Austria. It is often decorated with lattice strips of pastry on top.
Now that you know more about the history of tarts, let me show you how to make a simple and delicious lemon tart. This recipe will yield 8 servings and takes a little over an hour to make.
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Inactive time: 30 minutes
For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups (160 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and lightly grease a 9-inch (23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom.
- In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt until well combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and pulse until the dough comes together.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it briefly until smooth. Flatten it into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch (30 cm) circle. Carefully transfer it to the prepared tart pan and press it evenly into the bottom and sides. Trim off any excess dough and prick the bottom and sides with a fork.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Let it cool slightly on a wire rack.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cream until well combined.
- Pour the filling over the crust and bake for another 15 minutes or until set.
- Let it cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the pan.
- Dust with powdered sugar if desired and enjoy!
I hope you enjoyed this lesson on tarts and learned something new. Tarts are a great way to showcase your creativity and impress your guests with your baking skills. Try making this lemon tart or experiment with your own fillings and flavors (like this passion fruit tart) or even a deconstructed tart.
If you’re interested in learning more about tarts, attend our upcoming baknig class Hands-On Pie and Tart Boot Camp on Saturday May 27, 2023 at 10am, where you’ll learn a wide variety of delicious tarts including:
- Perfect Pie Dough
- Blueberry-Lemon Hand Pies with Cream Cheese Dough
- Sweet Corn Quiche with Arugula, Sun-Dried Tomato and Parmesan Salad
- Individual Chocolate Custard Pies with Whipped Cream and Salted Caramel
- Individual Spiced Plum Galettes