A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a message with a wonderful TV viewing tip - The Great British Bake-Off, featuring my all-time culinary idol, Mary Berry. I have to admit to hearing of her greatness rather late in life, when, in 2007, I moved into a shared house with a very fun jazz trumpeter, who was the proud owner of her “Complete Cookbook”. Together with our other lovely housemate, Messner, we threw ourselves wholeheartedly into ‘Mary Berry Mondays’, when we’d take it in turns to try out some of her recipes.
But I digress... what with Belarus, wedding cakes, and a couple of conferences to prepare for, I managed to completely forget about the series until it became the primary topic of conversation over lunch with an old school friend this week. It was definitely worth the wait. We jumped in at episode 2 – pastries – a topic I must admit to having little expertise in. The competitors had to make their own interpretations of particular pastry types, including a classic quiche, and some sweet tartes. After that, came the technical challenge - to recreate Mary Berry’s Tarte au Citron. As I watched, I could feel my mouth beginning to water uncontrollably. Since moving out from the trumpeter and Messner, I have acquired my own copy of Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook, so here’s my take on her delicious lemon tarte.
Mary Berry’s Tarte Au Citron
300ml (1/2 pint) double cream
Grated zest and juice of 5 large lemons
375g (12 oz) caster sugar
Icing sugar for dusting
Lemon twists or zest to decorate
250g (8 oz) plain flour
125g (4oz) chilled butter, cubed
60g (2 oz) caster sugar
28cm (11in) loose-bottomed fluted flan tin
1. Make the pastry: rub butter into lour in a large bowl, until it reaches the consistency of breadcrumbs.
2. Stir in the caster sugar, then bind together with the egg to make a soft, pliable dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30mins.
3. Roll out the dough on a lightly loured surface and use to line the flan tin. Prick gently then bake blind for 10 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius. Usually I use dried chick peas on top of tin foil when I bake blind. However, this flan is very large and my chick peas barely made an impact, so instead, I weighted the pastry down with a few small ramekins.
4. Remove the baking beans (or ramekins!) and foil, then bake the pastry shell for another 5 minutes until it had dried out (no soggy bottoms for Mary!)
5. Remove the pastry case from the oven, and reduce the temperature to 180 degrees Celsius.
6. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the cream, lemon zest and juice, and caster sugar. Stir until smooth, then pour into the pastry shell.
7. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the lemon filling has set.
8. Leave to cool a little, then decorate with icing sugar and lemon twists or zest.