So this is basically my favourite dessert/tart/sweet treat of all time. If I come upon a patisserie or a cake shop which looks even remotely like it has a proper pastry chef at the helm I will buy a lemon tart. Or Citron tart if we feel like getting fancy.
I adore my lemon butter but it is not right for a proper lemon tart. Similarly, that time I made the lemon meringue tart when I so bravely tried to keep up with the Daring Bakers produced a very easy lemon ‘curd’ but I could not bring myself to say a mix that involves cornflour is a proper lemon curd.
This comes from Jane and Jeremy Strode who own Bistrode, a 40 seat bistro in Sydney. They also do the weekly recipes in Good Living, which I always find very hit and miss. In fact, I bought their cookbook bistrode purely on flicking through it in the bookshop and chancing upon the page with their lemon curd tarts. There is much in the book I will try, far more than what they offer in GL, and this lemon curd is absolutely sensational.
The shortcrust pastry below is the one I use for everything. I think it is a Bill Granger recipe from recollection. (The picture below features double the curd recipe and is made in a 10cm x 33cm tart case w/ removable base.)
Lemon Curd Tart
Jane and Jeremy Strode, Bistrode
For the pastry
- 4 cups plain flour
- 350g unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/4-1/2 cup cold water
For the curd
- 120g butter
- 225g caster sugar
- 175ml lemon juice
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
For the pastry
- Process the flour with the butter and add enough water for it to come together as a dough
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes
- Roll the pastry to 2mm thick and line a tart case or 12 x 10cm diameter round discs (Jane Strode says here to cut out the discs and then refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight but I am never so organised – I cut them out, line the cases and then refrigerate)
- Make sure you avoid any air bubbles between the pastry and the tin
- Line and fill with pie weights and bake for 10 minutes or until golden-brown and cooked through then allow to cool.
For the curd
- Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan then add the sugar and stir to combine
- Add lemon juice and eggs and cook over a medium to low heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon
- Make sure you don’t let it boil as this will curdle the eggs
- Take off the heat and pass through a fine strainer into a clean container
- Cover with plastic wrap, pressing gently onto the surface so a skin doesn’t form and cool in the fridge before spooning into the tart case(s)
- The curd will keep in the fridge for a week.
Seriously, I could eat this until my head fell off.
Oh, and that pastry quantity will mean you have some left over. Just wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for another day.
This has been on high rotation for me this summer as a celebration tart – people’s birthdays, Christmas, New Years.
Any excuse really.
The vanilla cream is like a creme patissiere I guess but softer. It will run and while the original recipe uses a long rectangular tart tin, I find individual tartlette cases work a treat – nice shortcrust pastry that cracks on eating, letting the vanilla cream escape onto your plate. Mmmm.
The pastry recipe I’ve posted below is the one with the original – I use my normal shortcrust pastry because I’m stubborn like that.
Berry Tart with Vanilla Cream
Paul Camilleri, as appeared in the(sydney)magazine
- 250ml milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 3 egg yolks
- 75g sugar
- 25g plain flour
- 125ml thickened cream, whipped
- 3-4 punnets fresh berries
- icing sugar, for dusting
- 100g pure icing sugar
- 100g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 250g plain flour
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
For the pastry
- Combine the icing sugar, butter and flour in the food processor and mix until it resembles breadcrumbs
- Add egg and yolk and process until pastry just comes together
- Knead lightly and cover in plastic wrap, rest in fridge for an hour
- Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface and line a 10cm x 33cm tart tin and rest again in the fridge for another 30 minutes
- Prick the base and bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes or until pale golden then cool
For the filling
- Combine milk and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan and bring just to the boil then remove from heat and discard vanilla bean
- Whisk egg yolks, sugar and flour in a bowl then pour in the hot milk, stirring constantly
- Pour into a clean saucepan and stir constantly over low heat for 3-5 minutes or until thickened
- Cool and then fold in whipped cream
- Spoon into the pastry shell, arrange berries on top and dust with icing sugar.
OH my lordy be people, this pie is beyond sensational. BEYOND. The recipe is from Ben O’Donoghue – one of those great Aussie chefs who does really flavoursome unpretentious food. For those in the know, he appears on the UK food program called The Best, which is always always entertaining and gives you inspiration to get up and go and start cooking, which is more than I can say for the 98% of the current programming on the Lifestyle Food channel.
Anyway, this recipe comes from the August 2008 issue of Delicious magazine and while I significantly reduced the amound of sugar in with the apples and didn’t use the spices because I didn’t have them, the pastry is one recipe I will be using over and over again – DIVINE.
Ben says it’s his nan’s recipe and that rings true – I recall my nan making pastry using some custard powder as well and it being flaky and buttery and divine. It really makes it.
This was also the first time I’d done a free form pie and I expected it to be a disaster, oozing liquid and being a downright mess. It was an absolute sensation. Next time I’d probably add a little – just a little – more liquid and cook the apples just a little longer, but now I’m just nitpicking, go, make it, NOW.
Free form apple pie
From Delicious magazine, August 2008, by Ben Donoghue
- 1kg granny smith apples
- 1 cup caster sugar
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 cloves
- 1 star anise
- 3 cups plain flour
- 1/3 cup custard powder
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 350g chilled butter
- 3 egg yolks
- For the pastry, place the dry ingredients in a food processor
- Add butter and blitz until it looks like breadcrumbs
- Add the yolks and process until the pastry comes together in a smooth ball
- Divide into two then knead into flat discs
- Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour
- Meanwhile, peel and core the apples and slice into wedges
- Place in a pan over medium heat with sugar*, juice and spices
- Cook for 10 minutes or until the fruit is tender but still holds its shape
- Cool then discard the spices
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Roll out the pastry discs between two sheets of baking paper to 3mm thick, 28cm circles
- Place one circle on a baking tray, leaving the bottom sheet of paper in place as a lining
- Place the apple mixture in the centre, leaving a 3cm border, brush the border with a lightly beaten egg
- Top with remaining pastry, press down the border, then trim the edges into a neat circle and pinch edges together to seal
- Brush the top with some beaten egg, bake for 30 minutes
- Sprinkle with caster sugar and bake for a further 10 minutes until nice and golden
- Serve with custard, ice cream or both.
* Now, I’m sure if you used this amount it would caramelise beautifully and draw more liquid out of the apples, but in this house we like the pastry sweet and the apples tart, so I only added 2 tablespoons of sugar. As I said above, next time I’d add a dash more water and/or cook the apples a little longer for the filling to be a little more ‘wet’.
Completing a DBC always makes me puff out the chest and squeal ‘look what I made!’
This month was no different. The lovely Jen from Canadian Baker put the challenge out there – lemon meringue pie. A creation I had wanted to make but
always got freaked out by never got around to.
So guess what. Look what I made!
Some of my initial thoughts on this recipe:
– the pastry was a delight to work with and I’m going to use it again
– the filling was an absolute CINCH to make and while it was cornflour based, it didn’t have too much of that clag glue consistency or, indeed, taste.
– the meringue – something I make time and time again – threw me. Stupid I know, but I was all ‘is that thick and glossy’ when I know exactly what thick and glossy meringue looks like. So I think I either over mixed it or perhaps undermixed it as it was more dry and aerated. Annoying. I was going to make it again but any dessert with three components and various cooking/cooling requirements need some time allocated, something I have very little of at the moment until the boys go back to school.
– I made 12 tartlets and 9 mini-tartlets – the minis were everyone’s favourite.
– there was a moderate concern about the amount of liquid that came from the meringues, but it seemed to settle down and didn’t impact the pastry or flavour.
– would I make it again? Definitely.
the mini version
Lemon Meringue Pie
From Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, Wanda Beaver
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie
For the Crust:
- 3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
- 2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water
For the Filling:
- 2 cups (475 mL) water
- 1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
- 5 egg yolks, beaten
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
- 3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
- 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
For the Meringue:
- 5 egg whites, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar
To Make the Crust:
- Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible.
- Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.
- Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together.
- Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl.
- Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk.
- Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.
- Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll.
- On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm).
- Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin.
- Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm).
- Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
- Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden.
- Cool completely before filling.
To Make the Filling:
- Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan.
- Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes.
- Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together.
- Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.
- Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick.
- Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth.
- Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
- Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated.
- Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined.
- Pour into the prepared crust.
- Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.
To Make the Meringue:
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
- Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form.
- Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks.
- Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.
- Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.
A trio of icings
I have been pining for old fashioned pineapple tarts that traditional bakeries make. The ones with a short pastry, pineapple filling, moch cream and topped with passionfruit icing. Linda helped by providing the pineapple filling recipe from the Presbyterian Ladies’ Cookbook or some such treasure trove of old fashioned pre-world war II (apparently) delights.
Pineapple Passionfruit tartlets
- 1 medium pineapple, sliced very finely then diced (easier to do this if the pineapple is cold)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbs cornflour
- 2 tbs water
- 1 egg yolk
- Combine the pineapple, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil to cook for 10 minutes
- Combine the cornflour, water and egg yolk then stir into the pineapple and cook until thickened
I can’t tell you how making this, then tasting it made me feel. I was jettisoned back to my childhood and the fact that I now had the recipe to make whenever I feel like it was so empowering and exciting! Next
- 125g butter, softened
- 80g icing sugar
- 1/3 cup milk, warmed
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbs boiling water
- Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
- Add the combined milk, vanilla and water a little at a time until all incorporated
- Just try not to eat this straight from the bowl.
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 30g butter, softened
- 1 passionfruit
- 1 1/2 tbs boiling water
- Beat the icing sugar with the butter and water by hand
- Add the passionfruit by spooning the pulp into a small strainer then push the juice of one half of the passionfruit through, adding some of the seeds to dot the icing.
- You might need to add more passionfruit depending on the texture. You want it somewhere between being spreadable and being a glaze. (in the picture above, my first attempt, the icing was a bit too stiff)
- 4 cups plain flour
- 350g unsalted butter
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup cold water
- Rub the butter through the flour
- Add enough water to bring the dough together
- Flatten to a disc and refrigerate for 30 minutes
- Roll out to quite thin and line 12 1/4 cup tartlet cases. Prick bases and bake in 180C oven until golden.
This pastry recipe is the one I use for everything. I very rarely make a sweet shortcrust pastry as I find using straight shortcrust helps counterbalance the sweetness of a pie filling. The following pastry however, is perfect for a neenish tart, where the pastry is really a major part of the experience. It is much more like a biscuit crust.
To build the tartlets
- Spoon some pineapple into the base
- Top with moch cream and smooth surface
- Spoon over icing with a palette knife and smooth off.
Pastry for Neenish Tarts
- 125g soft butter
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
- Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar for 4 minutes until pale and fluffy
- Add vanilla and egg and beat until combined
- Stir through the flour then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes
- Roll out to 3mm thick and line 12 1/4 cup capacity tartlet tins
- Prick bases and bake at 180C for 10 minutes.
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 30g butter, softened
- 1 tbs water (you can use sherry for a grown-up version)
- 1 1/2 tbs cocoa powder
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Beat the icing sugar, butter and 1 1/2 tbs of boiling water by hand
- Divide the mixture in half. Either add 1 tsp of sherry or the 1 tsp of lemon juice to one half and set aside
- Add remaining sherry to cocoa and stir to combine then mix in to remaining icing
To build the tarts
- Fill the pastry case with a spoon of jam
- Top with moch cream and level out
- Using a small palette knife ice half of each tart with the chocolate icing then ice the other halves with the lemon/white icing, smoothing to edges.
It’s best we not speak of just how many I ate.