A joy for some, a curse for others; hosting friends and family for supper (sometimes with only a day's notice) is inevitable, and often requires catering to a far larger crowd than usual. Our weekly features columnist and regular hostess Ellie Steafel recently imparted one piece of invaluable advice regarding dinner parties – only cook one course.
But, you may argue, what to do for dessert? It's Sod's Law that the moment you choose to forgo pudding and focus on one delicious main course, someone will enquire, 'what's for pud?' Cue the shop-bought lemon tart.
Perfectly smooth, with a buttery base and, to quote Nigella, "a hint of inner-thigh wibble," Who could complain? But which supermarket best buy could pass as homemade? We tested six of the finest to find out which will be your Saturday night saviour.
Tesco Finest Sicilian lemon tart
£2.50 for 458g, Tesco
This tart has a pallid complexion, with curd that has shrunk away from the pastry – arguably more ‘rustic’, though the chewy pastry certainly doesn’t feel like something made by hand. The curd lacks any real tang, merging with the pastry to form a claggy, cloying mouthful. Serve this to the guests you don’t wish to return.
M&S lemon tart
£3.50 for 400g
A very neat tart, with a dark pastry and a vibrant, yolky filling. It’s got good wobble and a lovely crisp base, but the flavour is lacking in the fresh zing of others, tasting a little too sugary and artificial.
Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Sicilian lemon tart
£4.10 for 460g, Sainsbury’s
Clean, browned pastry and pale yellow cream. It’s sharp, perhaps even a little too sharp – but better too lemony than lacking flavour. Pour a little cream on and this would make a pleasing dinner party pud.
Lidl Deluxe Sicilian lemon tart
£2.59 for 456g
A nice sunny colour, though the custard is a cracked and shrunken in places, pulling away from the tart case. The pastry is soft and a little bland, but it’s got a good smack of lemon and a pleasingly creamy texture
Famous Hedgehog Bakery’s lemon curd tart
£13.50 for 600g, Abel & Cole
This looks the most rustic out of the lot, with a sandy, buttery crust and crumbled pastry topping and velvety and rich centre. Like dipping a biscuit into freshly made lemon curd – it’s delightful.
Waitrose No.1 Sicilian lemon tart
£3.75 for 530g, Waitrose
This is the best looking of the lot; thin, well-tanned pastry, creamy canary-yellow curd and a dusting of icing sugar. The pastry is wonderfully buttery, while the curd is sharp and lusciously thick.