Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Lemon Tart

Pudding time. I find myself craving delectable sweetmeats in the morning, of all times: lemon tart is as good a breakfast as any (and a lot better than the philistinic 'full English': shoot me, but a slop of gas-inducing bean, a black-lace-edged egg, malodorous pig-slices and a leathery raft of toast is enough to induce a hunger strike). Make sure the lemons are Sicilian and unwaxed: they should be pungent, textured and of a sunlit hue.

For the shortcrust pastry:

8oz plain flour, sifted
6oz good French butter, frozen
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
a little water

For the filling:

6 free range eggs, 2 whole, four yolks only
6 1/2 ounces vanilla sugar
6 fl oz double cream
juice of 3 Sicilian lemons, zest of 1
2 oz melted dark chocolate. (Go for a bar which is max. 60-70 cocoa solids. Any higher and it becomes too bitter if not earthy, overwhelming the delicate lemon flavours)

Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl. Grate the frozen butter *quickly* into the flour mixture. Add a little water and knead the mixture until silky. Place in the fridge for 1/2 hour to rest.
Butter a 10" flan tin. Roll out the pastry and drape it carefully over the tin, allowing the excess to hang well over the edges. Blind bake, using dried beans/foil to line the centre, at Gas 5 for 15 minutes; remove the beans/foil and bake for a further 5. During this 5 minute period melt the dark chocolate. The minute the pastry's out of the oven, brush it all over with the melted chocolate. Allow the pastry to cool and the chocolate to set. Reduce the oven temperature to Gas Mark 1/2.
Separate eggs and yolks into a large, clean and above all DRY bowl and beat in the sugar until your arm is tired. If the mixture isn't light and fluffy by this point, use the other arm. Add in the cream, mix well, and finally the lemon juice and zest. Pour the mixture into the pastry case and place Very Carefully in the oven. Bake for around 50-60 minutes. When you remove the tart from the oven, trim off the excess pastry and dust with icing sugar. Allow to cool for an hour or two before diving in, or the centre will ooze everywhere.
If you're not a lemon fan, substitute pureed raspberries and use almond sugar instead of vanilla.

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