English Lemon Tart

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Continuing the research on tarts, perhaps to the detriment of some waistlines but for a really good cause! We love lemon & fruit desserts in our house neither of us are big into chocolate for some reason, besides, it’s a good way to get my husband to eat fruit. I know what you’re thinking, what planet are they from? I think I am the only one from my family who isn’t a chocoholic, which is OK, more for them! A word about the eggs, try & use free range ones if possible, as custard type fillings are all about good quality eggs!  This is definitely a winner!

Makes 8 Servings

Make The Pastry:

6 oz. unbleached flour
3 ½ oz. very cold butter, cut into small (1/2”) cubes
1 oz. icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. cold water

Place the flour, butter & icing sugar into a food processor. Pulse briefly, using on/off turns, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then add the egg yolk & water; pulse again until the mixture sticks together in clumps, using a tiny bit more cold water if necessary. Turn out onto a clean work surface & gather into a ball with your hands. Knead the pastry two or three times to make it smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap & chill 15 minutes.

_DSC0954.jpg nx2Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Grease well a 9” loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin, or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Lay a piece of baking parchment on your work surface. Remove the base from the tart tin & lay it on the paper before greasing the pan; with a pencil, draw a circle onto the paper 1 ½“ larger than the tin base. Or, if you have an 11” tart pan or plate, use that as your guide.

Rolling Out The Dough:

NB: This method sound a bit tedious but it really works very well & you are not incorporating more flour into the dough but rolling out on a work surface dusted with flour.

Dust the base of the tin with flour. Place the pastry ball in the centre of the tin base & flatten it out slightly. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it meets the circle mark you have drawn. As you are rolling out the dough, turn the pastry by turning the paper. Gently fold the pastry surrounding the tin base in towards the edge of the bottom of the tart base. (I use a thin palette knife to run under the pastry & gently fold towards the centre.

Carefully lift the tin base off the work surface, drop it into the tin; then ease the pastry into the edges & up the sides of the tin, pressing the dough into the fluted rim; double over the excess and press into the fluted rim if necessary. If the pastry has cracked, simply press it together to seal; then lightly prick the base, all over with a fork, but not quite all the way through. Place the pastry-lined tin on a baking tray, cover loosely with plastic wrap & chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Remove the pastry case from the fridge & remove the plastic wrap. Line the pastry case with tin foil so it supports the sides, then fill with pie weights. I like to use white beans for this. I simply cool them afterwards & store in a large jar until next time. Bake “blind” for 12 – 15 minutes, until the pastry is set; then lift out the foil & beans. Return the pastry case to the oven for another 12 – 15 minutes or until it is pale golden & completely dry. I usually check at around 10 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the filling. Reduce the oven to 325 F.

Make The Filling:

5 large eggs
4 oz. whipping cream
8 oz. berry sugar**
4 lemons (juiced & zest grated using a microplane grater), you will need 8 Tbsp. lemon juice & 4 tsp. zest

Break the eggs into a large bowl & whisk together with a wire whisk. Add the rest of the filling ingredients & whisk again until they are well combined. Pour the filling carefully into the pastry case. To prevent it spilling as it goes into the oven, pour in most of the filling so it almost fills the tart, carefully sit the baking sheet & tart on the oven rack, then top with the rest of the filling to completely fill it. (You may have a bit left over; just make sure you don’t overfill or the filling will flow over the top of the crust. Bake for about 30 – 35 minutes or until just set but with a slight wobble in the center.

Leave to cool slightly, then when the pastry seems firm enough, remove the tart from the tin. Tip: the easiest way to do this is to place the base of the tin on an upturned can or jam jar & let the outer ring fall to the work surface. Transfer the tart to a serving plate & serve warm or cold, dusted with sifted icing sugar.

Garnish: Icing sugar for dusting. If you have a torch you use for caramelizing the sugar on crème brulee, you and use it here. Just be careful not to burn the pastry edges.

**NB: Please see my Phyllis’ Kitchen Cooking Tips regarding the use of dry & liquid measures.

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