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Lemon Meringue Tart

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American chef Thomas Keller once remarked," I've been doing the same lemon tart for fifteen years. I can't make it any better. To me, it's perfect." We totally concur. This is one perennial classic that has withstood the coquettish nature of palates; the pièce de résistance of the dessert pulpit. This recipe is our tribute to this unforgettable, decorous lady: Pudding-soft, delicate and generous with lemony tang, balanced perfectly with the ethereal sweetness of the meringue peaks. Some foods are meant to be eaten. This one is meant to be savored.

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Ingredients

  • For Vanilla Shortcrust Pastry:
  • 175 g of Plain Flour
  • 1 tbsp of Icing Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of Salt
  • Seeds of 1 Vanilla Bean
  • 100 g of Chilled Butter (diced)
  • 1 Egg Yolk (save the white for the meringue later)
  • 2 - 4 tbsp of Cold Water
  • For Lemon Curd Filling:
  • 100 g of Brown Sugar
  • Zest of 2 Lemons
  • 2 tbsp of Corn Flour
  • 125 ml of Lemon Juice (about 2 to 3 lemons, strained)
  • Juice of 1 Small Orange (strained)
  • Water
  • 85 g of Chilled Butter
  • 3 Egg Yolks + 1 Whole Egg (save the whites for the meringue later)
  • For Italian Meringue:
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 200 g of Caster Sugar
  • 75 ml of Water

Details

Servings 4
Adapted from cookism.tumblr.com

Preparation

Step 1

For the shortcrust pastry:
1. Add flour, icing sugar, vanilla and salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix well and add in the butter. Gently rub butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture appears like breadcrumbs.
2. Add egg yolk and 2 tbsp of cold water into the mixture. Using your hands, gently mix the dough till the ingredients begin to combine. Test the dough by pinching a small amount of it between your fingers to see if it holds together. Add about 1 to 2 tbsp of cold water if the dough feels dry. It will be ready when crumbs hold together easily and don't feel wet.
3. Lightly flour your hands and knead the dough lightly on a floured surface for 20 to 30 seconds. Do not overwork the dough! Shape the dough into a flat disk. Wrap it in a plastic wrap and chill it for 30 minutes before using.
4. Preheat oven to 200C. Butter four 12 cm wide, 2 cm deep loose based fluted flan tins. Divide pastry into 4 parts. Roll out each part on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin to the thickness of about 3mm. Rotate the pastry occasionally to prevent it from sticking onto the surface. Line it on the tins. Trim the edges and press the pastry into flutes using your fingers. Prick the base with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes before baking.
5. In the meantime, cut out 4 pieces of greaseproof paper that are big enough to cover the edges of the pastry and crush it for a few times.
6. After 30 minutes, line pastry with crushed greaseproof paper and fill it with baking beans. Bake pastry for 15 minutes, then remove the greaseproof paper and bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes until pale golden in colour.

For lemon curd:
7. Add in lemon zest, sugar and corn flour into a saucepan. Make orange juice up to 200ml with water using a measuring cup and gradually stir it into the saucepan, followed by the lemon juice.
8. Cook over a medium heat, stirring regularly with a whisk till thickened. Once mixture bubbles, remove from the heat. Immediately stir in butter until melted. Beat the eggs and stir it into the mixture using a whisk. Return saucepan to a medium heat, stirring vigorously for a few minutes until mixture thickens and plops from the spoon.
9. Fill pastry cases with lemon curd and allow them to chill for at least 2 hours.

For Italian Meringue:
10. Add sugar and 75ml of water into a saucepan. Place it over medium heat and cook until sugar has dissolve and boil until temperature reaches 120C on a sugar thermometer. Meanwhile, whisk egg whites to soft peaks, then slowly pour in syrup in a thin stream while whisking all the time until finished. Keep whisking for a few minutes until meringue has cooled. Meringue should be glossy and encompass stiff peaks. Spoon meringue into a piping bag attached with a star nozzle.
11. Pipe little meringue stars on top of the pastry, making sure the lemon curd is nicely covered with the meringue. Finish the meringue with a blowtorch but watch the fire! Serve immediately and enjoy!

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