Sunday, October 05, 2008

Tarte au Citron

Tues 30 Sept 2008

In a moment of white wine induced tomfoolery I came back from France and promptly invited some friends over for a mid-week supper. Never mind that I needed sleep, a bit of a detox or that there was washing to be done!

My main course was a very simple, but deliciously aromatic, slow cooked chicken dish. I forgot to take any photos so I'll be leaving that recipe for another time.

For pudding, I opted for tarte au citron, from The Ultimate Mixer Cookbook. This book came free with my KitchenAid, and while the recipes do give specific instructions for attachments and speeds you'll be able to use this book just as happily with a bowl and spoon!

Indeed, my pâté sablée was made in the Magimix: as far as I'm concerned that is the king when it comes to pastry making.

So, for the sweet pastry, take 150g of flour and a pinch of salt and mix in 75g of chilled unsalted butter, cut into little cubes. Add 25g of icing sugar, 2 egg yolks, 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence and 1 tsp of chilled water. The mixture came together really quickly, and, after a light knead to form it into a ball, it was wrapped in clingfilm and left to rest in the fridge.

As this is a chilled tart you do need to bake your pastry blind. I'm the last person who should be giving advice on this, as my first attempt (yes, there were two) saw me hit the timer on the oven and wander off. I was alerted that I might have left things a little too long when I smelt sugar caramelising. The pastry just tasted burnt! On take two, I baked the pastry case with baking beans for 10 minutes at 180C (fan). I then removed the beans (and parchment) and baked for a further 10 minutes. I think that next I'll bake for longer with the beans and then finish off briefly.

I'm usually far too lazy to bother baking pastry cases blind but this experience has taught me that really I should make far more of an effort. Of course, if you're lazier even than me, you can always buy a pastry case from the supermarket!

On to making the lemony filling ... lots of eggs, butter and sugar required. Take 5 lemons: grate their rind and then juice them. Bring the juice to the boil.

While the juice is heating up, whisk well 5 eggs, a pinch of salt, 250g of caster sugar and the lemond rind. When the lemon juice is boiling, slowly pour it in to this mix, whisking all the time. Once the lemon juice is combined, pour the mix into a clean saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring continuously. Nothing looks like it's happening for ages, but eventually the mix will start to thicken. When it coats the back of a wooden spoon remove from the heat.

If you are using a mixer you will need to pour the hot eggy-lemony mix back into a clean bowl, ready to add the butter. Or you can just add the butter by hand. Cube 150g of unsalted butter and add to the mix a piece at a time, beating well between each addition.

Once all the butter is mixed in - that is your filling done. Pour into your cooled pastry case and refrigerate. The recipe says for at least 2 hours, but this is unlikey to be enough - aim for overnight.
Serve dusted with icing sugar, a dollop of crème fraîche, and a pudding wine. I served this with Miranda Golden Botrytis 2002 which was very good. I picked this wine up over a year ago when my local Somerfield was getting rid of it at a bargain basement price (of course, now utterly disappointed I only bought one bottle). You can still but this wine but it's around £11 for a half bottle (available from Laithwaites). A cheaper (and lower alcohol) alternative would be to try serving this dessert with a high end Moscato d'Asti, such as the 'Nivole' Michele Chairlo available from £7 a half bottle from Oddbins.

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On a similar citrus note, you can check out a lime tart, or try a rich chocolate and caramel tart, or a good old fashioned Bakewell tart!
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