|Tarte au citron meringuée|
Baby Boy is the only person in the family besides myself who likes this French lemon tart. Occasionally he has a craving for it and would pester me to make him one. I've offered him a few store-bought ones, but he always insists that he prefers mine. At the same time I do not really think that he's crazy about my version of the tart, he just wants to give me work to do.
I never seem to have the same tart no matter how many times I make this Tarte au Citron Meringuée. Probably because the oven I've used was different each time. But the result was usually quite tasty and from the rustic look of my labour you could well imagine that I've made it from scratch short of growing my own lemons.
The French do not like to waste if they could help it. Hence if 3 egg yolks were required for the sweet pie pastry, then 3 egg whites would go towards making the meringue to cover it. It serves at the same time to prevent the custard from burning.
Depending on how firm you like your custard to be, you can adjust the baking time in the second part of the baking. I've made anything from flowing lava to firm and they all tasted more or less the same at the end of the day: rich, sweet, acidic, very sinful.
Tarte au Citron Meringuée:
For the sweet crust pastry:
a pinch of salt
120g icing sugar
3 egg yolks
For the lemon custard:
1 large lemon (untreated)
120g castor sugar
For the meringue:
3 egg whites
80g castor or icing sugar
Cut the butter into small pieces and leave to soften in room temperature. Add the salt and sugar and mix (with a whisk or with your fingers) till you obtain a creamy paste. Add the egg yolks and continue mixing. Sift the flour and mix in a quarter first. Finally add in the rest of the flour and finish mixing only with your fingers without overworking the dough. Form the dough into a ball and wrap in cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F. Line the bottom of a round ceramic mould with baking paper and fill it with the dough pressing it well onto the sides. I didn't bother to roll out the dough before I used it so I ended up with a rustic-looking crust. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. As a general rule, I prefer tarts with a thin crust so that one could enjoy the filling, but for this lemon tart, I tend to go heavy with the pie crust because I couldn't normally survive too much of the certes yummy tangy-sweet filling. In any case it's all a question of personal taste.
Lower the heat in the oven to 150°C/305°F. Zest and juice the lemon. Melt the butter and set it aside. Mix the egg with the sugar followed by the zest, juice and butter. Pour into the baked pie crust and bake for 12 minutes. At this point you can decide to increase the baking time by a few minutes if you wish to have a firmer/more cooked custard. Remove the tart from the oven and set aside.
Lower the heat in the oven to 100°C/215°F and do make sure the oven is truly at this temperature before you proceed. Whisk the egg whites till firm and whisk in the sugar bit by bit till you get a shining white meringue batter. Cover the tart with it and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. If for some reason the meringue is not cooked, continue baking till it is reasonably firm.
Let it cool before serving. I personally prefer it chilled.