When I was trying to decide what dessert to make for my friends Louise and Tony last weekend, I couldn’t make up my mind between something rich and sweet or something clean and light. I started off my thinking I might do individual melting-middle chocolate fondants, then I thought I might do sticky toffee pudding. Then I thought I’d keep it easy and do a banoffee pie. Banoffee pies are so easy, its just a case of assembling ingredients. But then I remembered the Waitrose advert for Heston Blumenthal’s Lemon Tart. It looked so simple, I thought I’d try it out myself. Luckily for me, I then found out that lemon is Tony’s favourite flavour and he was delighted I was making a lemon tart.
Heston says: “The set of this tart depends on precision. If you have a digital probe, whisk the tart filling until it reaches 75°C. It should set perfectly. If you don’t have a digital probe, follow the instructions carefully and the tart will be equally delicious. It is also important that you use a really good quality, all-butter shortcrust pastry for the best results.”
375g All Butter Shortcrust Pastry
4 unwaxed Lemons (juice of 4, finely grated zest of 3)
170g unsalted butter, cubed
220g golden caster sugar
5 medium eggs,
1 medium egg yolk, beaten
You will also need some baking beans and a 23cm tart case.
Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350F, gas mark 4.
Roll the pastry between 2 sheets of clingfilm to a thickness of 2mm.
It should be 10cm wider than the tart case.
Peel off the clingfilm, roll the pastry around a rolling pin, lift it over a 23cm tart case and unroll it so the edges hang over the sides.
Press the pastry to fit the tin leaving the edges overhanging to trim after baking (this will ensure the tart case is unaffected by the pastry shrinking). Prick with a fork and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Take a sheet of parchment larger than the tart tin, scrunch it up and lay over the pastry (this will make it easier to fit into the edges of the tart). Place baking beans on top and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the parchment and beans and return the tart to the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Now, I have come to the conclusion that shortcrust pastry is NOT my friend! I always seem to have problems with it. It could be because my oven is shockingly bad, or it could be that I just handle it all wrong, I don’t know. For some reason, my pastry puffed up!
And that was with a whole tub of baking beans weighing it down! I have no idea why. I did ask a baker what he thinks happened and he suggested that perhaps I’d rolled the pastry out too thick and there weren’t enough beans but I definitely rolled it out to 2mm as the recipe suggests. Maybe I should have put more beans in but then I would have thought it wouldn’t cook through properly. Anyway, whatever went wrong with it, I’ll probably never know. But I think I might have to admit defeat with shortcrust pastry and just buy ready-made tart cases in the future instead!
Once cooled, run a knife around the tin edge to remove the excess pastry. Carefully lift the tart case out of the tin and place on a serving plate.
While the case is cooling, zest 3 lemons and reserve, then roll all 4 of the lemons on a work surface with the palm of your hand (to release more juice).
Juice them and measure out 150ml.
Put the butter and sugar into a pan with the juice, zest and eggs and place the pan over a medium heat.
Stir continuously for 10-15 minutes (do not allow to simmer) until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
Increase the heat to medium-high and stir until it begins to simmer; simmer for 5 seconds only, then remove from the heat.
Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Cover with clingfilm to avoid a skin forming, and place the bowl in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.
When cold, pour the lemon filling into the centre of the tart allowing the lemon curd to flow evenly to the edges.
Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour or until set, before serving with crème fraîche and fresh raspberries.
This is a beautiful dessert to serve after a meal. It’s light and fresh tasting; tart, yet sweet, and the filling is beautifully smooth which works in contrast with the crunchy pastry. I do love my sickly sweet desserts but sometimes you don’t want anything too heavy after a big meal.
You can see Heston’s advert here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAQ8hT4ZGMo You will notice that his pastry case does of course turn out perfectly! Grrrrr…