Posts Tagged 'custard'

lemon tartlets

its like i always say, if life gives you lemons (and a 12 cup muffin tray), make lemon tarts. personally i am partial to a single big tart as opposed to the poncy tartlets you see here..i think they encourage a sense of community. if you like that kind of thing. but then there are some eaters who believe little tartlets to be preferable because apparently they provide a false sense of security in moderation. you can eat four and still feel ok because, after all, they were only little. and so it was – little tarts. this also meant i could experiment with some highly unorthodox techniques and make one of my biggest messes to date. But at least it can be said by the secret eater of these midnight snacks, “that’s what i’m talkin’ about”, by way of announcing that here, finally, is the lemon tart the sides of my jaw have dreamed gnashingly about. Quoth the eater, “evermore” – a literary twist of lemon, as it were, for those with a penchant for gothic fiction.

shortcrust pastry

350g plain flour

pinch of salt

125g cold unsalted butter

100g icing sugar

3 eggs

preheat oven to 180 degrees. in a food processor, if you have one, pulse flour, salt and butter until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. add the sugar, then the egg yolks and pulse again. the mix will combine and leave the sides of the bowl. if it doesnt, ive been known to add an extra yolk. then wrap the ball of dough in glad wrap and chill for at least an hour.

then, using a cheese grater, coarsely grate the pastry into your tartlet tins (or muffin tray) and press it evenly into the sides and base. prick the base with a fork and chill for a further 15 minutes.

blind bake for 10 minutes and then remove the weights and bake for a further ten minutes until very lightly brown. set these aside to cool

lemon filling

3/4 cup lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon

1 vanilla bean split and scraped

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup cream

3 eggs lightly beaten

turn the oven down to 140 degrees. in a heat proof bowl over simmering water stir lemon juice and sugar until sugar has dissolved. add cream and then the lightly beaten eggs. stir continuously for 5 minutes and then strain. pour this into your pre-bake tart cases and bake for 20-25 minutes. when they come out they should be a bit wobbly but sort of just set. they should look exquisite…save for a few troubled ones which are for immediate consumption.

you can, if youre ambitious, take this one step further and brulee the top, making what we could call a lemon creme brulee tart. if you have a blow torch then all will be well…if you are limited to and by a griller then just be on your toes (or more accurately sit down facing the oven and watch every step of the way because burning will happen and will happen quickly. i wouldnt advise this however for people with melancholic, plath-like tendencies or for that matter tired people who have been baking for too long and are looking for a dark warm womb-like place into which to crawl.)

so first, take your most muntered tartlet. sprinkle over a good teaspoon of sugar (you do need a lot – and dont panic, when you later bite into it, that pain which will shoot through your teeth, up into your gums, and finally settle between your eyes for the next twenty four hours is a perfectly normal reaction). stick it under a burning hot grill and let it do its thing. remove when they are bubbling and blistering on top. this will most certainly burn the edges. personally i like that look. i also, amongst other things, have a penchant for the charred taste of grissle and its carcinogenic properties. but you can, and probably should, hack away at the black top crust and you should be left with quite a sexy looking lemon brulee tart.

creme anglaise and/or vanilla ice cream

before i begin the custard/ice cream discourse i feel i should briefly reflect on a recent criticism i received from an ambling older fellow. it was put to me thusly: “could you perhaps not be so unremittingly cool and be slightly less cool for the sake of grammatical comprehension.” hardly. my initial response however was tempered somewhat when i took into account the scope and scale of my audience – you know who you are. and the fact that i can count them on one hand, granted one which was blessed with a few extra digits. make that two. and it occurred to me that in order to maintain the interest of this small, wonderful and dysfunctional collective of individuals, much less attract the interest of a broader cross-section of society, i should perhaps respond more openly and, if nothing else, feign interest in constructive criticisms which might come my way. so henceforth and herewith i shall endeavour. to. be, more; liberal# in my use’ of punctuation! and so it is, i declare the death of cool in favour of grammatical and structural accuracy. now, onto the question of custard, if i may. >?@*()

ingredients

6 egg yolks

2/3 cup of sugar

1 cup milk

2 cups double cream

1 vanilla pod – split and scraped

in a saucepan pour the milk, cream and the vanilla pod and heat on a low heat until just before boiling point. remove from heat and set aside.

in a bowl whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy and doubled in volume.

then carefully, gently, and calmly slowly pour a little bit of the hot milk/cream over the egg/sugar mix and whisk like a mentalist. this is the crucial moment. if your attention is diverted, or even if your whisking arm is weary, you run the dreaded risk of scrambling your eggs. once you have whisked in the first bit of milk, you can take a step back from the psychological and culinary edge and proceed to pour in the rest in a more relaxed fashion…though it is important to continue whisking.

then return the mix to the saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon over a gentle heat. it will slowly start to thicken and you will know you are good to go (not that theres ever anywhere to go) when you can draw a line through the custard on the spoon. if you are using this for custard then place the cooled mix in the fridge to set. if you are marching inexorably on to make a vanilla ice cream sent from heaven then pour this cooled mix into an ice cream machine and churn for 20-ish minutes. whichever way you go, you will find yourself at the end, in a full fat sea of vanilla-y goodness in which i encourage you to wade, bask and finally sink to the bottom.