Anyone who knows of his culinary artistry will agree that Neil Perry is among Australia’s best and most creative chefs, and his latest recipe book is brimming with delicious dishes. Everything I Love to Cook (Murdoch Books) is a must add for your kitchen library and this lemon tart is a fine example of the irresistible offerings in it.
This delicious tart is a classic for good reason – all it needs is a dollop of chantilly cream and it’s perfect. To enjoy this tart at its delicate best, there are two things to remember: make the lemon filling a day in advance and chill it overnight to reduce the risk of it splitting; and pull the tart out of the oven before it is fully set.
Plain (all-purpose) flour, for dusting
1 quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (page 432)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting
Chantilly cream (page 410), to serve
For the lemon filling
350 g (12 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
300 g (10½ oz) thick (double) cream
350 ml (12 fl oz) lemon juice, strained
You’ll also need a 26 cm (10½ inch) fluted loose-based tart tin, about 4 cm (11/2 inches) deep
The day before you want to bake the tart, make the lemon filling. Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk by hand until light and frothy. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until well incorporated. While stirring gently, pour in the cream, followed by the lemon juice, and keep stirring until well blended. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Lightly butter and flour your tart tin. On a lightly floured bench, roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 3 mm (1/8 inch). Cut out a circle that is about 5 cm (2 inches) wider all round than the base of the tin, then carefully roll it over the rolling pin and ease it into the tin, gently pressing it into the fluted sides. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Trim off any excess pastry and prick the base a few times with a fork to prevent it blistering and rising in the oven. Line the tart case with foil, weigh it down with baking beans or raw rice and bake for 20 minutes. Lift out the beans or rice and foil from the tart case and brush it with beaten egg, then return it to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Take the tart out of the oven and turn the temperature down to 140°C (275°F). Put the tart tin on a baking tray, return it to the oven and carefully pour in the lemon filling: use a small jug to fill the tart right to the top. Bake for 40 minutes, then start checking – you want the tart to be halfway set but still quite wobbly in the middle. If you take it out too soon, it will be runny when you cut into it; if you leave it in too long, it will set too firmly and lose its elegance.
Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool and firm slightly. To take it out of the tin, carefully balance the base of the tin on a cup, so you can ease off the rest of the tin. Transfer the tart to a wire rack and, with a palette knife, gently slide it off the base of the tin – this will allow the tart to cool and the pastry to crisp up rather than sweat. Invert the rest of the tin back over the tart to help hold in the sides as it cools and sets.
Leave for 1 hour, then carefully cut into slices with a serrated knife and place on plates. Dust with icing sugar and serve with chantilly cream.
Images and text from Everything I Love to Cook by Neil Perry, photography by Petrina Tinslay. Murdoch Books RRP $59.99.