It's always useful to have a couple of handy dessert recipes in your arsenal for when you really need to impress...even if the person you're impressing is yourself! A great lemon tart is the perfect combination of zesty, lemony sunshine and buttery richness - a refreshing way to end a meal that's still a little bit indulgent too. This recipe was shared with me by my extremely talented husband; who was a chef at Melbourne pastry gem Chez Dre, somewhere between being a touring guitarist in a metal band and a bar owner. It's been his trusted never-fail-to-impress dessert for many years, and I hazard a guess that if you give it a try, you'll see why.
A few tips - the gelatine leaf literally sets this recipe up for success, don't leave it out. Gelatine leaves can be found in all good food stores and are graded in strength, with titanium giving the firmest hold. Make sure when you zest and juice your lemons that you keep these two separate. Zest is best kept as fresh as possible, so adding it in at the last minute will give you that extra 'pop'. Serve this chilled with a little spoon of creme fraiche or double cream to complement the zing.
2 cups plain flour
150g butter, chilled and cubed
2-3 tablespoons iced water
5-6 lemons (you'll need 250ml juice and the zest, but we'll get to that)
250g caster sugar
200g eggs (about 4 medium sized eggs)
200g butter, cubed and chilled
1 sheet titanium strength gelatine
Preheat an oven to 180c. In a food processor, mix together the flour and butter until you achieve a fine crumb texture. With the motor running on low, gradually add the iced water until a smooth dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead briefly and then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Once chilled, roll out pastry onto a lightly floured surface to about 3-4mm thick. Lay over the rolling pin and gently transfer the dough onto pastry tin. Line the case with baking paper and fill the case with blind baking beads (you can also use lentils or rice if you don't have baking beads). Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the weights and continue to bake for another 5-7 minutes or until the inside of the case is light golden in colour. Set aside to cool completely before filling.
For the lemon filling, zest and juice the lemons. Reserve 250ml lemon juice and the zest separate. To make the lemon curd, place the juice, sugar and eggs in a Thermomix bowl. Cook at 90c for 9 minutes on speed 3. If using a double boiler set up, whisk the lemon juice, sugar and eggs constantly for 10-12 minutes or until the consistency is thick and smooth. Meanwhile, soften the gelatine leaf in iced water for 5 minutes.
When the curd is thick, pour it into a clean bowl, then set it over another bowl filled with iced water. Whisk in the chilled butter, a few cubes at a time until complete combined. Squeeze out the gelatine leaf and add it to the mixture. Continue to whisk until the leaf is completely dissolved. Once the curd has cooled to about room temperature, pour into the pastry shell and set aside in the fridge for one hour. Keep refrigerated until serving.