I have a strong suspicion that lemon tart is the ultimate dessert. I've never met anyone who doesn't like it, and even those (crazy) people I know who don't have a sweet-tooth seem to make an exception for lemon tart. I love adding herbs to desserts, most likely because herbs are the only things we've been able to successfully grow in our tiny courtyard - and even then we're pretty good at killing them off. Our trusty mint plant has been dubbed the 'phoenix mint' because every couple of months it dies off, only to be resurrected from its dry, twiggy state into leafy abundance like a phoenix rising from the ashes. So, when I decided to make a lemon tart today, I thought I would try adding some fresh mint into the mix to see whether it would add something to this classic dessert.
I should probably just learn to master a dish before messing with it, but where's the fun in that?
- grated zest and juice of 4 lemons
- a couple of sprigs of fresh mint
- 6 eggs
- 250 g caster sugar
- 200 ml thickened cream
- 100 g unsalted butter
- 1 small egg, lightly beaten
- zest of 1 lemon
- 60 g almond meal
- 1/4 cup icing sugar
- 3/4 cup flour
To make the pastry, pulse the butter, egg, lemon zest, almond meal, icing sugar and about a quarter of the flour in a food processor, until just combined.
Tip out onto a well-floured bench and quickly knead in the remaining flour, being careful not to over-work the dough. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Roll out the pastry and line a 30 cm tart tin. I like to use one with a removable base as it makes everything easier later on. Cover with a sheet of baking paper and fill with pie weights, or some rice or dried beans, and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the baking paper and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes until the pastry is lightly golden but not browned.
Meanwhile, place the lemon juice and zest, and the mint leaves in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool and infuse.
Beat the eggs and caster sugar together until amalgamated. Strain the cooled lemon juice into the egg mixture, add the cream and stir to combine. ideally you should let the mixture sit for a little while to let any bubbles subside (as they will give you a slightly frothy look to the top of the tart) but I'm always too impatient.
Pour into the just-baked pastry shell and carefully transfer to the oven (I always manage to spill the filling over the top of the pastry - it doesn't really matter if you do, it just makes it harder to get the tart out of the tin when it's cooked). Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the filling is just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 45 minutes before serving.
The mint imparted a lovely subtle flavour, adding an interesting depth to the tart. I would definitely use it again.
For the pastry in this recipe, I used this as a starting point, although I didn't do all of the resting, because, as mentioned before - I'm impatient! It's probably the best tart pastry I've ever made, although the dough was quite difficult to handle - I'm assuming that resting it as suggested would help.