The first mistake I made with this lemon brûlée tart was not reading the recipe and seeing how long it would take (amateur!), then, I let myself get distracted by various processes happening on various recipes (blanching almonds, while allowing a cocoa mixture to cool, while pastry was chilling) at various times. However, all’s well that ends well, and the tart was declared a fabulous success. Seconds were enjoyed with gusto.
While Matthew’s recipe involves making the pastry by hand, I decided to let technology do some of the work and whizzed it up in the food processor. Took about 90 seconds, then a quick kneading before going into the fridge. Job done. I then made up the filling – using my trusty, very fine zester to release that wonderful fragrance from the lemons. I used a hand whisk for this and it came together quickly and easily. While it sat for an hour, I worked on the chocolate cake and panforte, and then rolled the pastry out for the shell. The pastry has lemon zest in it and it seemed a shame to waste the offcuts, so I re-rolled them and cut out little biscuits – 10 minutes in the oven and afternoon tea was done. I stuck the pastry shell in the freezer to speed things up and then the blind baking began.
I think my oven may have been a little slow this weekend as I baked the shell for about 5 minutes longer than the recipe, to get it golden. In the meantime, I scraped the froth off the custard, got my strainer ready, added the zest of two more lemons and then realised I was supposed to strain the custard before adding the extra zest. I didn’t want to lose the punch of the zest, so decided not to strain it – my guinea pigs would just have to get over un-strained filling.
Pastry shell cooked, I poured in the filling. Here’s a tip for you – put the shell onto a baking sheet BEFORE you pour the filling in. Not afterwards, like I did. It’s really difficult to move a tart that’s full to the brim with liquid onto an oven rack, hence my decision to put it onto a baking sheet, but even that got a little messy. Anyhoo, into the oven it went. At the 30 minute mark, my filling was looking extremely liquid – not the "wobble" in the centre that Matthew talks about. I gave it another 10 minutes – still sloppy. So I left it another 5 and, by that stage, there was no wobble at all. Darn! Overcooking it slightly also meant it cracked around the edges slightly. Dear readers – learn from my mistakes!
The final touch to this tart is the brûlée topping, however I possessed neither a brûlée torch nor pure icing sugar (icing sugar mixture won’t work as it has cornstarch added; I could have stuck the tart under a hot grill with caster sugar on it, but figured it was already overcooked as it was), so I decided to top it with double cream and blueberries instead. The verdict? Wonderfully lemony and a gorgeous texture – despite my best efforts. I’ll definitely be making this one again.
Do you get distracted if you’re cooking more than one thing at a time?