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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