Wednesday, 4 January 2012

:: Lemon Divine ::

The best ever Lemon Tart
:: Megann’s Kitchen ::

:: the best ever lemon tart ::

Ahhh, Melbourne. The food love of my life. If there was one thing I used to love about working in the cafe scene was the sensation of ordering a sweet lemon tart to accompany my always perfect latte. CafeSegovia in Melbourne's Block Arcade would have to be where my obsession started. The small, yet busy cafe, was not only a source of income for me during some penny pinching years whilst studying, but owners also dutifully fed me with generous staff meals & treats. I have to admit, I wasn’t the greatest waitress in the world, but working there was some of the happiest times I can remember. It was a carefree environment full of laughter where simply working the Friday Jazz nights or hearing the newly released Santana’s ‘Smooth’ (yes, it was summer of '99 if I recall!) over & over on the stereo would fill me with joy.

:: pouring the mixture into the blind baked pastry ::

I came across this divine, yet relatively easy, recipe in Stephanie Alexander’s Cooks Companion once when I had too many lemons & I knew instantly it was the one which would transport me back to one of my favourite places of employment. The luxuriously smooth lemony curd is ideal for a hot Summers day dessert to cut through the empowerment of any meal & to finish it off with perfection. Not to mention the lively green mint with the golden lemon looks very Australian for Australia Day on the 26th January!
Pastry - check... lemons - check... other fridge/pantry items - check.... 
now let's go!
3 large lemons
6 eggs
250g caster sugar
200 ml cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or seeds of 1 vanilla bean
pure icing (confectioner's) sugar to dust

Line a 24 cm loose-bottomed tart pan with pastry, then bake blind at 180°C (350°F) for 10 minutes. Remove pastry weights & parchment paper then bake for another 5 minutes, until just cooked through. Reset your oven to 160°C (320°F).

:: preparing the mixture ::

Zest and juice the 3 lemons. Combine eggs & sugar until well combined, then add the zest & lemon juice & stir. Add cream & vanilla seeds/paste & mix well using a whisk. Pour into just-baked pastry case and bake for 35-45 minutes until almost set & just turning a golden blonde on top. Cool in tin for at least 30 minutes before serving however, as it's a custard base, it's ideal chilled in the fridge for at least an additional 30 minutes to allow it to fully set. Serve dusted with icing sugar and with thick cream.

:: I like to serve my lemon tart with double thickened cream & a light dusting of icing sugar.

:: adding a festive touch ::

:: I couldn’t help myself this festive season when I made this recipe- I cut out some white chocolate stars & piped some of the remainder melted white chocolate over a slice to present. To garnish I used some baby mint leaves to accentuate colour & freshness.

:: lemon fresh ::

Kitchen Notes
:: Short of time & don’t want to make your own pastry? For a home-made result I highly recommend the amazingly gourmet Carême VanillaBean Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (located in speciality food stores, such as Essential Ingredient) - or Pampas Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (located in Supermarkets). This pastry is incredible... hand-made in their kitchens just for you.
:: As it is a loose bottom tin, I like to place it on a tray to remove & place back in the oven with ease. This way there is no chance of you accidentally breaking the crust of your pastry by putting your hand through the base!
:: Remember that the lemon filling will continue to set upon cooling.

:: Today I made it with rather sweet lemons & found 250g of caster sugar to be too much - you can easily adjust the sweetness of your tart by simply adding less sugar - approximately 200g of caster sugar (give or take) in this circumstance. 
:: I place any leftover lemony egg mixture into oven safe dishes (try tea cups) with some rasberries sprinkled on top & bake for 25-30 minutes as a chefs/toddlers treat! Yummy.

:: freshly baked easy lemon tart ::

Dedicated to Owen Brokensha
:: Sharing fond memories of my life-long friend: he used to come & visit me on my break at Cafe Segovia for a coffee, dessert & a little gossip. It was tremendous working so close by each other!

From Stephanie Alexander, The Cook's Companion, 1996.

I would also love to see your Megann's Kitchen Creations/photos of recipes that you have made on Megann’s Kitchen Facebook


  1. This is incredible! I just made it & it's exactly like your picture... well, almost!!! Thank you for a fantastic recipe.

  2. This is amazing! I've been stuck on this page for aaages, over-analysing every nuance so that I can (hopefully) recreate it for Australia Day. Just beautiful.

  3. Thank you Paola!!! Well, if there are any questions please don't hesitate to ask! Also thinking about posting a pavelova soon for Australia Day... mmmmmmm.

  4. I just had a question about the vanilla bean paste/seeds. This can easily be an option & be left out, but I find the vanilla seeds add a different depth of sweetness without adding copious amounts of different sugars. I haven't tried is with essential vanilla extract yet... but could easily be a substitute.
    I hope this helps!!!

  5. Great recipe - works even better if you strain the custard mix before baking - it can be a little grainy without straining from the lemon zest..


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