Saturday, 2 January 2010
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am am totally in love with lemon. I just adore lemon flavoured anything.
Oh . . . I just adore a Lemon Drizzle Cake all moist and tender, with it's tart lemon drizzle crust dripping down the sides, just tempting you to dig in again and again . . .
Likewise a tasty Lemon Meringue Pie, all cold and chilled from the refrigerator, and cut into thick slices. iIt's deliciously tart lemon filling all cold and rigid . . . and standing to attention beneath that golden cap of sweet meringue . . . I know the beads of liquid that form on the meringue overnight are not to be applauded, but they've always been one of my favourite parts . . . all sweet and gooey.
And . . . don't get me started on those lovely Lemon Puff cookies . . . crisp and buttery, the sweet and buttery lemon flavoured cracker like biscuit, filled with tart buttercream. Oh, how yummy. You just cannot eat just one.
Lemon curd, especially my homemade one . . . I can eat it right out of the jar with a spoon. A secret indulgence . . . and a yummy one.
My favourite of all though . . . has to be a classic Lemon Tart. Ohh, that lovely crisp sweet pastry encasing a rich golden lemon filling . . . not quite custard and not quite pudding, but a wonderful combination of the two. Your fork digs in and it melts in your mouth in one deliciously unctuous melange of buttery lemony goodness . . . bliss in every bite.
Of course you could caramlize the sugar on top with a blowtorch . . . but in my opinion that's an extra step that's not needed. I prefer it left as is as a light sweet dusting . . . the perfect garnish for the perfect tart.
*A Classic Lemon Tart*
Crisp sweet shortcrust pastry filled with a deliciously tart lemon filling. Perfection.
10 large eggs
380g caster sugar
500ml double cream
the zest and juice of 8 unwaxed lemons
butter for greasing
225g sweet shortcrust pastry (see below)
Icing sugar to dust the top
Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F.
Make the filling first. Place the eggs into a bowl and whisk them gently to help to break up the yolks. Whisk the sugar in slowly and than whisk in the cream and the lemon juice. (wait until this next step before adding the zest.) Strain the mixture through a sieve. Discard any solids left in the sieve. Whisk the lemon zest into the custard mixture.
Butter a 20cm (10 inch) loose bottomed tart tin. Place on a large baking sheet. Roll out the sweet pastry to get a thin but even depth of pastry that will overhang the tart tin. Carefully roll the pastry over the rolling pin and then lift it over the tart tin and drop it in loosely. Tuck the pastry down the sides with the back of your knuckles, pressing it into the bottom edge well. Do not trim off any excess. Line the tart case with a baking parchment and fill with baking beans, rice or ceramic baking beans. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Take out the beans and greaseproof paper. Return to the oven to colour the bottom, another 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Reduce the temperature of the oven to 100*C/225*F. Pour the lemon mixture into the tart case just to reach the top. Return to the oven and bake for one hour, until the tart is only just set. Remove the tray from the oven and using a rolling pin, run it across the top of the tin to trim off the excess pastry. Leave to cool for about an hour before serving. Just before serving, dust with a good portion of icing sugar. Serve cut into slices along with some pouring cream.
*Rich Sweet Shortcrust Pastry*
makes 1/2 pound
The best way to make shortcrust pastry that has a crisp crumble in the mouth texture is to do it by hand, rather than by machine. Using a machine tends to overwork the gluten in the flour and the pastry has a tendancy to end up springy and shrink when cooked.. Resting the pastry for a half hour in the fridge is also an important step because of the high proportion of butter to flour, which makes it difficult to roll out when warm.
8 ounces plain flour
4 ounces cold butter
2 ounces sifted icing sugar
2 egg yolks
2 TBS water
Sift the flour into a basin. Add the butter, cut into pieces and rub it into the flour until it resembled fine dry bread crumbs. Add the icing sugar. Whisk in well. Make a indentation in the centre of the butter mixture. Beat the egg yolks and water together. Pour into the indentation and then, using a fork, mix together to a rough dough in the basin. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a few minutes until smooth. Shape into a ball and then place into a zip lock bag. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes, while you make the filling. Proceed as per the recipe requirements for whichever recipe that you are using to fill the tart with.