Monday, 13 August 2012

Such a Tart

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”
― David Mamet, Boston Marriage
For the last year, I have been obsessed with lemon tarts. I’ve tried four or five different recipes for them, and while I did finish each and every one, this is one of two favorites (I'll wait a while before posting the other). It’s a little bit time consuming but it’s wonderfully tart and crisp and luscious by the time you get around to eating it. Living in India, we don't get lemons as much as we do lime - the first time I made this tart I substituted lime juice for lemon juice in the exact quantity. Not a good idea, my cheeks squeaked for hours after! It's a wise idea to use two thirds of the quantity needed if you’re using little green or yellow limes as opposed to big juicy lemons ( *ahem some sort of strange juicy lemon joke just crossed my mind*).

Down Under Lemon Tart

(This recipe has been adapted and of course as always my comments are in parentheses.)

For the crust
2 1/2 cups flour (I call this maida)
200 grams butter (the butter should be cut into cubes & must be cold)
3/4 cup icing sugar (pass this through a fine sieve, don't want lumps in the crust)
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
4 eggs
¾ cup castor sugar
2 tablespoons minced lemon zest (or 1 and a half tablespoons minced lime zest)
¾ cup fresh lemon juice (or ½ cup fresh lime juice)
½ cup cream (Amul, Parsi Dairy etc will do fine – just make sure its cold)

Step 1
Mix the flour, butter and icing sugar (sieved) together in a bowl with either a hand mixer or in a food processor. (Until someone buys me a kitchenaid mixer  I will continue to use my trusty stand mixer) The mixture will look like breadcrumbs.

Step 2
Add the egg yolk as well as one tablespoon water and mix. You may need to add another tablespoon of water (I did) to this. (I found that at this stage the dough began to climb up the paddles of my mixer and stick. It was easier and much simpler for me to take the dough out of the bowl and knead it by hand for a few minutes – it shouldn't take more than two or three max.)

Separate the dough into 2, flatten it and wrap in cling film. Put it in the fridge for 20 minutes. (I tried putting it in the freezer because it was so hot – big big mistake! It froze rock solid and took ages and ages to thaw)

Step 3
Flour your kitchen counter well and roll out your dough. It helps if you roll it out into a rough circle; it’s much easier to put into the pan. The dough shouldn't be too thin because it will break when you lift it, but be careful about it being too thick as well. (If you know how to roll a chapatti – I don't! – it needs to be that thickness. In English, maybe 3 to 4 mm)

Step 4
Gently lift the dough up and place it in a 9-inch tart pan. (It’s always preferable to use a pan with a removable bottom, but since I don't have one and have no idea where to get them, I use a pretty glass dish instead.) Lightly press the dough down into the pan and up the sides – patch cracks with extra dough, you don't have to be too neat, we’re covering it up with yummy lemony goodness soon.

Here, my recipe says to chill the crust in the freezer for 20 minutes, which you could do if you had a dish that was not glass. If you chill a glass dish and then put it into a hot oven it will shatter. The choice is yours, though freezing it again does make it slighty more crisp.

Step 5
Preheat the over to 175 degrees Celcius. Line the pastry with foil or baking paper (cut into a rough circle of course) and add some raw rice to it  (you could use dal too, I nearly fell off my chair laughing when my mum mentioned she used to do that). Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove foil and rice, and continue baking until pastry is a light golden color. The whole process will take 20 minutes.

Step 6
Onto the filling! In a mixing bowl, mix together eggs, castor sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cream. Be careful not to over beat.

Pour the mixture through a strainer to get rid of the pips and chunky bits of zest. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet, and carefully pour the lemon mixture into the baked pastry crust.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tart is nearly set. (My recipe says that the filling will be runny in the center, and will set when cool. However my tart bubbled and blistered in those 20 minutes and took on this wonderful bright yellow sheen.) 

Cool and serve.

I love this tart, it's just sublime!

My pretty lemon tart, next to a picture of what its supposed to look like. Pretty close!