Lemon Tart

A recipe by Robert Carrier

The wine growing village of Franschhoek is one of the most enchanting spots in South Africa.  High on a hill overlooking their own vineyards is the Auberge de Chamonix, one of the Cape’s finest restaurants.  here, three fresh young talents are spearheading a new movement of inspired minimalist cooking based on the ‘sunshine’ ingredients of the Cape.  This classic lemon tart, which says lemon, lemon, lemon all the way, is a case in point.  It is at its best eaten immediately – it does not keep well, but if your house is like my house you will not get the chance to find that out.  Serve the tart at room temperature with cream, or creme fraiche, with slices of strawberry or plum, or verbena or cardamom-scented sorbet, or both.

Ingredients:  Makes 1 27cm/10in Tart

For the Shortcrust Pastry:  1 egg, beaten; 50g/2oz caster sugar; pinch salt; 3 tbsp milk; 300g/10oz plain flour, sifted; 175g/6oz butter, slightly softened and diced

For the lemon filling: 8 eggs, beaten; 225g/8oz caster sugar; finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons; juice of 4 large lemons.

To serve:  caster sugar; slices of strawberry or plum; 300ml / 1/2pt whipping cream, whipped

To prepare the pastry – In a mixing bowl, combine the beaten egg, sugar, salt and milk and mix well.  Chill.  In another bowl, combine the sifted flour and diced butter.  Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it resembles the texture of wet sands.  Pour the chilled egg and milk mixture into the flour mixture and knead quickly to a smooth dough.  Wrap the dough in clingfilm or foil and chill for 30 mins.

To roll out the pastry – remove the pastry from the refrigerator and discard the clingfilm or foil.  Roll out the pastry carefully on a lightly floured surface to a round large enough to line a deep 27cm/10 in loose-bottomed tart tin.  Place the pastry in the tin, gently pressing it into the corners and prick the base with a fork.  Chill for 30 mins.

To bake the pastry blind – preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4.  remove the pastry-lined tin from the fridge.  Cover with foil and fill with dried beans or rice.  Cook in the preheated oven for 10 min, or until the edge of the pastry case is lightly browned.  remove from the oven, discard the foil and beans or rice.  Reduce the heat of the oven to 170oC/325oF/Gas 3.  Return the tin to the oven and continue to bake for another 10 mins until the base is lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

To make the Lemon Filling – In a mixing bowl, combine the beaten eggs and sugar, and beat until light and yellow.  Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice, and mix well.

To finish and serve:  Fill the baked pastry case with the rich lemon filling.  (Note any leftover filling will make delicious little lemon flans.)  Cook the tart in the oven for about 30 mins or until the filling is set.  Sprinkle the top of the tart with caster sugar, then caramelise under a preheated grill (or with a blowtorch).  Decorate with the strawberry or plum slices and serve at once with dollops of whipped cream.

Serve with Tomato, mozzarella and basil stack with balsamic vinegar and lime dressing and Racks of lamb with green herb crust

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