The Courier-Mail

HOW TO MAKE ... LE­MON MERINGUE TART

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What a clas­sic com­bi­na­tion: crisp, flaky pas­try, creamy le­mon fill­ing topped with bil­low­ing meringue.

There are three com­po­nents to this loved dessert. The pas­try shell first needs to be blind-baked, so that can be done in ad­vance. The pas­try recipe I use is cred­ited to Damien Pig­no­let, an Aus­tralian chef, cook­book au­thor and res­tau­ra­teur.

The lus­cious fill­ing is best done the day be­fore as the fine le­mon zest in­fuses its magic into the mix­ture. Just be­fore fill­ing the tart, stir, then strain the mix­ture and put into a large jug. Put the tart shell in the pre­heated oven and then, on bended knee, fill the tart to the brim.

The tart needs to be baked on a low heat and it is ready when the cen­tre just wob­bles.

To make the Ital­ian meringue, the egg whites are beaten while the sugar syrup is heated to 121C and is slowly poured on to the firmly beaten egg whites. The mix­ture con­tin­ues to beat for another 15 min­utes to cool, be­fore be­ing ready to use.

Top the tart with the meringue in large dol­lops. To brown the top, the tart can be flashed un­der a hot grill or use a small blow torch. Cut the tart with a hot dry knife. METHOD 1. Make the pas­try. In a bowl, rub flour through but­ter with fin­ger­tips un­til coarse bread­crumbs are formed. Tip this on to the bench, mak­ing a well in the cen­tre be­fore adding the cold wa­ter.

2. Rub the flour/but­ter mix into the wa­ter, com­bin­ing the pas­try across the bench. The pas­try needs to be streaky in ap­pear­ance. Once com­bined, form into a 1.5cm disk of pas­try, wrap and chill for 1 hour.

3. Re­move from fridge, roll out and fill a 1 x 28cm or 2 x 19cm round, loose-based tart shell with the pas­try. Re­turn to fridge to rest again for 1 hour.

4. Re­move from fridge and line pas­try with bak­ing pa­per and fill with bak­ing beads. Bake large tart shell blind at 175C fan-forced for 45 min­utes, be­fore re­mov­ing beads, and cook a fur­ther 10 min­utes to fin­ish. Set aside.

5. Make le­mon fill­ing. Put eggs in large bowl. Break up with a fine whisk. Add sugar, com­bine well. Add juice and zest, mix through, then add cream and stir through. Chill for sev­eral hours or overnight. Stir and then strain be­fore us­ing.

6. Pre­heat oven to 150C fan-forced. Put baked tart shell in oven, pour in le­mon fill­ing. Bake for 1 hour 10 min­utes, then check. If al­most set, turn off oven and leave for a few min­utes be­fore re­mov­ing (less bak­ing time for smaller tarts). Al­low to cool com­pletely.

7. Make Ital­ian meringue. Put egg whites in the largest bowl of your elec­tric mixer, whisk at­tach­ment in place.

8. Put a small but heavy saucepan on the stove, add glu­cose, 60ml wa­ter and then pour sugar on top, bring­ing to boil over a medium heat. At­tach a sugar ther­mome­ter to the side of the pan and when at 115C (soft ball stage), turn on mixer to beat the whites.

9. When the molten sugar reaches 121C (hard ball stage), re­move from heat and pour very slowly over the firmly peaked whites with the ma­chine still beat­ing. The whites will be­come thick, glossy and in­crease in vol­ume. Con­tinue to beat for another 15 min­utes or un­til cool (30C). The meringue is now ready for use.

10. Pipe or place the meringue on free form with a large spoon. Brown gen­tly with a blow torch (do not hold too close) or un­der a hot grill.

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