It might be a bit silly that I’ve kept going with my bake-along, especially as I’m clearly slowing down at it the longer things go on. Belting out a layered cake with mirror glaze is challenging enough when it’s not a Monday night with a curious, cake-loving toddler asking “Mama, what do?” every few minutes. We’ll see how things go…
In another case of “things I’ve bought with the best of intentions, but not used yet” is a rectangular, loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin. Rectangles are, in my mind at least, much easier to cut into even slices than circles, especially once you go beyond 8 pieces.
Pastry intimidates me, I’ll admit it. It can turn into tough, leathery rubbish in the blink of an eye while still looking perfectly delicious on the outside. It’s tricky to get the correct thickness, it loves to shrink in the oven, and then it’s brittle when baked. Temperamental, to say the least. Certainly something I need practice with instead of just picking up a pack of ready made in the supermarket.
This recipe uses an enriched pastry, so as well as the usual butter/sugar/flour of sweet pastry, egg is added. I used a duck egg which gave a lovely colour to the pastry.
Not going to lie, I was a bit concerned with the texture as I scooped it out of the food processor. The individual bits looked fine, but also like it had no intention of becoming a uniform piece. Thankfully I have cling wrap and brute force.
After a good hour in the fridge, it actually held together fine as I rolled it out. There was definitely a bit too much pastry for my tin, but better that than too little!
(Excuse the bread bag in the background. I was far too happy with getting the pastry in the tin in one piece to think about set dressing.)
Baking beans out, and the whole thing into the oven for 6 minutes
Using the leftover egg white from earlier, the inside of the tart gets a liberal coating before going back in the oven. This will help keep the pastry crisp when filled.
And done! How pretty is that?!?
While that cools, it’s on with the filling. I’ve made lemon curd a few times, and hollandaise regularly, so I’m confident of my hot eggy sauce skills and my ability not to make expensive lemony scrambled eggs.
First up, lemons are zested and the zest is rubbed into caster sugar, for maximum release of those lovely citrus oils.
Next is a truly terrifying amount of butter. All in I used an entire 454g/1lb block, minus enough to spread on my toast the next morning.
This is all whisked together, slowly and carefully, in a bain marie, AKA a simmering pot with a ceramic batter jug perched on top. In honesty, I should have known to reduce the recipe by about a quarter, given my overspillage on pastry. I definitely had too much curd, but that’s much easier to find a new home for than pastry scraps.
I really could have gotten a little fancier with it, but I made my filling ever so slightly too thick and at that point in the night didn’t want to start faffing around with jugs of boiling water and offset palette knives to get a smooth and flat finish. I also didn’t bother with dark chocolate drizzles.What I wanted to do was eat pure, unadulterated lemon tart.
After as long a stint in the fridge as we could tolerate, it was time for the really fun part.
Exactly the right balance of sweet and sharp, and the pastry was delicious. I even managed to get it acceptably thin – hearing my Inner Prue the entire time. It was, unsurprisingly, very rich, but I fear it’s also exactly the type of tart that you could easily have seconds or thirds of.
Given the number of portions I’d ended up making and the vast amount of butter involved, most of this was sliced up and brought into work, to save me from myself. I’d absolutely make this again.