It was one of those catch ups that took months to organise. It shouldn’t be that hard to pin down a date for a lunch for six girlfriends who all live in the same city but somehow each day that was suggested clashed with someone’s holiday or family event or life crisis. Eventually though we found a little oasis of space and managed to all meet up at my friend Jo’s house for a long lunch.
|Lemon meringue tart|
I was in charge of dessert and so after a bit of thinking I decided I just had to make a classic lemon meringue tart. This lemon tart is sharp but sweet with pastry that crumbles ever so lightly and meringue that puffs like a cloud and is crisp at the peaks with a marshmallow like consistency. Even after Jo had fed us all so that we were fit to burst with a winter warming soup and big bowls of silky pasta we still found room in our stomachs for a slice of this tart in all its gooey, sticky deliciousness. It was also about this stage in proceedings that we vowed we should not leave it so long again to catch up. Long live the long girly lunch.
110g unsalted butter at room temperature
100g caster sugar
200g plain flour
250ml fresh lemon juice (this is the juice of about six lemons)
215g caster sugar
60g unsalted butter at room temperature
4 egg yolks
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
1. Combine 100g butter and sugar in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Stir in the egg and sift the flour on top and mix until combined.
2. Press the dough together and knead very briefly. Shape into a ball, cover in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours before using it. (You can make this ahead of time and freeze until you need it).
3. Meanwhile, to make the lemon filling, combine the cornflour, water, lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan. Use a whisk to stir constantly over medium heat for 4 minutes or until the mixture boils and thickens.
4. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and egg yolks. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 3 hours or until cooled completely.
5. Preheat the oven to 180° and brush a 23 cm pie or tart dish with 10g melted butter.
6. Turn out the pastry onto a sheet of floured plastic wrap (this is the cheats way of keeping it from sticking to the bench) and roll out into a 5mm thick circular shape. Keep brushing the pastry with flour if it is sticking.
7. Line the tart dish with the pastry and leave the edges of pastry overlapping. Cover the pastry with baking paper and fill the dish with baking weights or rice. Now trim the excess pastry.
8. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and pastry weights or rice. Bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until crisp and golden. Set aside to cool completely.
9. To make the meringue, use an electric beater to beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoonful at a time until the mixture is thick and glossy.
10. Spread the lemon filling over the base of the pastry case. Spoon over the meringue mixture and spread to the edge of the pastry. Use the back of a spoon to create peaks. Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until the meringue is golden at the peaks, crisp on the outside and soft and marshmallow like inside.