How do you heal a broken heart? Sugar (or chocolate) is what usually leaps to my mind, and I know that I am not alone. This was confirmed for me recently when the beautiful Eileen, a lovely soul I work with, had her heart broken by her now ex-boyfriend. What can I suggest? Sugar will cure just about every sort of heart ache and while it's all very well and good to sit down with a packet of Tim-tams and devour the lot in an evening, go one better and try making this Lemon Tart instead. This is rich stuff indeed, so proceed with some caution...
In the recipe I suggest 'golden, unrefined caster sugar'. This is a more nutritional product than the ordinary stuff from the supermarket as it has been much less refined. Besides that, it has a much lovelier flavour. The best brand is Billingtons and you can get it from good food shops (though I loathe the word gourmet, but you'll find it in those shops as well).
Begin at least 6 hours before you intend to serve
For the pastry
200g of wholemeal plain flour
100g of organic, unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
30g of golden, unrefined caster sugar
1 egg yolk, beaten
For the filling
250ml of double cream, full fat please!
200ml of lemon juice (about 4-5 small ones)
Zest of all the juiced lemons
275g of golden, unrefined caster sugar
Begin by heating the cream to boiling point. Then add the lemon zest, remove from the heat and let its scent infuse the cream for several hours. Sift the flour into a bowl, tip the bran caught in the sieve back into the bowl and add the butter and sugar to it. Rub them in with light fingers so they are turned to fine crumbs.
Bring the dough together with the beaten egg yolk and just enough ice-cold water to bind so add it by the tablespoon to be safe. Reserve a small lump of pastry to fix any cracks that may develop on baking the pastry blind, the beautiful custard is far too precious to allow it to escape.
Preheat the oven to 125 C.
Butter and flour a 28cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Place the pastry in the freezer for 15 minutes. When ready, grate the pastry into the tart tin and press it with your fingers into the sides. Much easier than rolling out such soft dough. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before baking blind for 10-15 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for another 5 minutes. Allow it to completely cool, patching up any little holes with the reserved pastry.
Whisk together the eggs and sugar and stir in the juice and the strained, scented cream. Place the tart tin on a baking tray and set it on an oven shelf pulled part-way out of the oven. Transfer the filling to a jug and very carefully fill the tart case to the rim. Gingerly move the shelf back in and bake for between 1 and1.5 hours until set. If after 45 minutes the filling still looks and feels like tepid liquid, turn the heat up a smidgen, but turn it down if it's cooking too quickly.
Remove from the heat as soon as it is set so that it doesn't colour or toughen. Chill to room temperature before serving dusted with icing sugar.