- PREP: 55 MINS
- COOK: 1 hour
- DIFFICULTY: MEDIUM
- SERVES: 6
This is my favourite recipe for what I think is the most delicious lemon pie! This recipe can be used to make one large lemon meringue pie, or several small/ individual pies. The pastry will be thin and crisp, with a gorgeous citrus hit from the filling, finished off with a sweet, light, decorative Italian meringue piped over the top. Yum! Lemon is a universal favourite. It is one of the most popular flavours on my menu for cakes, and everybody loves it!
# If you chose to make smaller individual tarts just adjust the timings to suit yourself, depending on their size. They will require substantially less time to cook – especially the lemon tart mix itself.
- 250g Plain Flour
- 155g Cold Unsalted Butter
- 8g Caster Sugar
- 5g Salt
- 1 Medium Egg Yolk
- 15g Cold Milk
First dice your butter. Place it in your mixing bowl with the flour, salt and sugar. Mix on speed one with the paddle attachment until you have fine bread crumbs. While that is mixing organise your milk and egg together. When the flour and butter mix is ready, looks like fine breadcrumbs, begin to add the milk and egg together. Mix until it is just beginning to come together and there are no dry bits at the bottom of the mixing bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl, and bring it together by hand. Flatten it down into a nice neat patty and clingfilm it tightly. Place it in the fridge to rest until hard, over-night is best.
The following day remove the pastry from the fridge and allow it 5 minutes to come around before rolling. This is so it does not break when you begin to roll it. However, if it becomes soft it will become difficult to work with and will not yield the perfect tart shell you are looking for.
Butter and flour the inside of your tart case. Place a disc of parchment paper in the base of you tart case. Roll the pastry down so that it is quite thin, approx. 3-3.5mm. This is a nice thickness to eat, and to work with. Gently roll the pastry around your rolling pin and unroll it over the top of your tart case. Now with your fingers, working methodically around the shell, gently encourage the pastry down into the base of the tart case without stretching the dough. Place your fingers behind the pastry and encourage it forward into the case, with small movements. This way it should fall in as a result of its own weight. When the dough is inside the tart case, take a small ball of the extra dough, about the size of a bull’s eye, and wrap it in clingfilm. Dip this in flour and use it to press gently into the corners all the way around the case. This will help you achieve sharp corners all the way around you tart when you demould it later.
Next make sure the dough it straight up against the sides of the case and then take your rolling pin and gently run it over the top of the case – beginning in the middle and rolling out to the edge. Check the top is all cut neatly and then clingfilm the tart shell and place it back into the fridge to set hard again.
2. Lemon Tart Mix
- 248g Egg
- 188g Caster Sugar
- 73g Lemon Juice
- 13g Lemon Zest (very fine – on the finest setting on your grater)
- 142g Cream
Scale your cream and sugar into a large bowl and whisk until fully mixed in. Whisk your eggs in a bowl separately and then add them to the bowl of cream and sugar. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest. If you have a hand blender it is a good idea to give it a quick blast with that to make sure the mix is completely smooth.
There will be some scum on the top of the mix (white foamy bubbles). Use a ladle or spoon to carefully remove this, without taking the lemon mix underneath. This is the impurities in the egg coming out. If it is not removed you will be left with an unappetising white layer over parts or all of the top of your tart when you cook it. This mix can be made the day before baking, when you are making your pastry, and then both are ready to go the following morning for when you want to bake!
3. Blind baking the tart case
Set your convection oven to 170C, fan oven 165C.
#You will need baking beans or rice ready to fill your tart shell.
Roll clingfilm on the counter so that it is 1 ½ the size of your tart case. Now do the same again at right angles to the original piece so that you end up with a cross of clingfilm. Run your hand over the clingfilm to make sure no air is trapped between the 2 layers. When the oven is at temperature remove the tart case from the fridge. Remove the clingfilm wrapped around it, and then place your new cross of clingfilm gently into it, leaving the excess overhanging. Next fill the tart shell with your rice/ baking beans and close it all with the excess clingfilm. Check that the clingfilm is not pulling the beans away from the pastry when you do this. Leave it nice and loose. Place the tart shell on a tray and into the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and gently lift the clingfilm bag a little to see how your pastry is doing. The clingfilm bag of beans can be removed when the pastry is ¾ cooked. The final cooking is done without anything in the tart, to allow the pastry to dry out a bit and crisp up.
#Be very careful moving, and removing the hot clingfilm bag of beans. The clingfilm can be fragile, it will be full of steam and very hot. Make a tiny bit of egg wash with an egg yolk, a little drop of cream, and a tiny pinch of salt. When the pastry is cooked turn the oven down by 5-10 C and brush the inside of the pastry shell lightly with the egg wash. You are now sealing the pastry so that it will hold the lemon filling without leaks. Pay close attention to the corners. Replace the tart shell in the oven and cook it until the egg wash is golden. Remove from the oven check you are satisfied with your egg wash seal – if required, do a little more work on it and then when finished allow to completely cool.
The tart shell could be cooked the evening before you plane to fill, and bake it. That way the whole process will take less time on the day when you will have the table to set and other things to organise. If you do this, clingfilm the shell when it is completely cold and leave it on the counter over night.
4. Baking the lemon filling
Set your convection oven to 135C.
When you are ready to cook the lemon tart, place your lemon tart mix into a sauce pan, and over a very gentle heat warm it to 30C mixing all the time with a spatula. When it is ready, transfer it to a jug. Place the tart shell on a tray in the middle of the oven and fill it there from the jug. This is a delicate exercise, but I find this the best way to avoid spillages moving the shell to the oven if I fill it on the counter beside. Push the tray fully into the oven and leave to bake for about 25 minutes. Gently touch the tray to see if the surface moves a little or is still liquidy. You are looking for the tart mix to wobble – like a belly ?. It should move as a whole. When you are happy with your tart remove it from the oven and leave it on the side to cool at room temperature.
When it is completely cool place it in the fridge for an hour before piping your Italian Meringue and serving straight away. Do wait until it is fully cool before refrigerating the tart, or it may crack.
5. Italian Meringue
- 100g Egg White
- 162g Caster Sugar
- 42g Water
Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan. Place your egg whites into a clean mixing bowl with the whisk attachment. The aim here is to have the sugar reach 120 -121C at exactly the same time as the meringue is at soft peak. Put you egg white on medium speed and place your sugar on maximum heat on the stove. Watch the two carefully so that you can slow the egg whites down if they are a little too far ahead of the sugar. When the sugar reaches 120C-121C remove it from the heat and pour it immediately down the side of the mixing bowl into your whites that are now at soft peak. Keep the whisk mixing all the time, don’t turn it off. Turn the speed up for a minute or two and then back to medium. Leave to whisk until luke-warm.
Remove you tart shell from the fridge. Grab a piping bag with your favourite nozzle and pipe away to your hearts content! To get colour on the meringue place it very briefly under a hot grill.
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