- 188g butter, diced
- 70g icing sugar sifted
- 312g plain flour
- 2 medium eggs
- 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla essence
For the filling:
- 7 whole eggs
- 180g sugar
- 3 lemons, zest and juice
- 260ml cream
For the meringue topping
- 3 egg whites
130g caster sugar
- Preheat the oven to 140 ̊C/gas mark 1. Place the diced butter, sifted icing sugar and flour in your mixer. Using the paddle attachment mix for approximately five to ten minutes. The smaller your cubes of butter the shorter the mixing time. (This can be also done by hand by rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients.)
- In a separate bowl, mix your eggs and vanilla essence and add this to your egg mixture. Mix until just incorporated, but do not over mix.
- Remove from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough by hand for one minute only. Working the dough for a shorter time creates a lighter dough. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
- When your dough is chilled, grease a 25cm tart tin (with a removable base) with butter. Roll out the pastry to fit the tart tin. If there are any cracks in your dough don’t worry, take a little piece of raw dough and soften it a little then very gently fill the crack. This small crack will bake perfectly.
- Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 25 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment and bake again for ten minutes. Baking at a low temperature reduces the shrinkage in the dough.
- While the pastry is baking make the filling. Combine all the filling ingredients and gently mix. Do not aerate too much as it causes air pockets.
- Place the mix in your par-baked shell. Reduce the oven to 110 ̊C/gas mark W and bake until set, approximately 30 minutes. Shake the tart a little. If there are any liquidy patches bake for a little longer.
- Cool for a few minutes before placing the meringue on top. To make the meringue, place the egg whites and the sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk on a medium to high speed till very stiff.
- You can pipe the meringue using a piping bag or spread with a spoon. Use a blow torch to brown the meringue lightly.
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- The sugar quantity can be cut in half for a more tart lemon taste.
- For a lighter, airier pastry, sift your flour and icing sugar well. High humidity can cause these ingredients to soak up moisture. It’s also wise to keep opened items in a sealed container or use an elastic band to keep opened packets tightly sealed.
- To get a smooth even edge to the tart, use a peeler to shave the edge of the pastry. It gives it a lovely finish. Do this before adding the filling