Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Sweet & Sharp Lime Tart...

I've had Nigel Slater's 'The Kitchen Diaries' hanging out on my bookshelf for a good few years now but recently Ciaran and I were looking to get ourselves out of a cooking rut and I picked it up again. It really is a lovely piece of food writing and the recipes are woven in amongst anecdotes about the weather, what's growing in the garden and lurking at the back of Nigel's fridge. There are some fancy recipes for special Sunday dinners but also more frugal meals involving leftovers. It's a handy recipe book for the overworked and time poor amongst us because instead of being confronted with a whole recipe book of possibilities, you can just turn to the relevant month and find a handful of recipes perfectly suited to that time of year.

This was the position I found myself in on Saturday when I decided to try Nigel's lime tart! I'm such a fiend for citrus flavours and this tart was absolutely mouthwatering. The pastry case burnt, but that's OK. I still wanted to share it with you because I expect, like me, your taste buds will welcome something so zingy and fresh at this time of year - when it feels like we're just teetering on the brink of Spring springing!

Also, there's no rolling with this pastry dough! You just roll the dough into a sausage, slice bits off and press it into place! Easy peasy lemon squeezy :)


5 - 7 limes
6 large eggs
250g caster sugar
175ml double cream

For the pastry:

175g plain flour
40g golden icing sugar
90g cold butter
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cold water

To make the pastry, put the flour and icing sugar into a food processor. Add the butter, cut into chunks and blitz for a few seconds. Stop when the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the egg yolks and water. Tip into a mixing bowl and bring the dough together into a thick log with your hands. Wrap it in greaseproof paper and refrigerate for a good half hour. Warning: skipping this step will cause the pastry to shrink!

Cut thin, round slices from the log of pastry, then press them into a loose bottomed 23-24cm tart tin with high sides (3.5cm), pressing the pastry gently up the sides and over the base (this pastry is too fragile to roll). Make certain that there are absolutely no holes, otherwise the filling will leak through. Prick lightly with a fork and refrigerate for half an hour.

Set the oven to 200c / Gas 6. Place a sheet of greaseproof paper in the tart case and fill it with baking beans (Nigel uses old haricot beans, I use some knackered out old black eye beans but you can buy specially made ceramic baking beans like these from John Lewis).

This is where my tart case went slightly awry - the recipe says to bake the tart case for 10 minutes then remove the greaseproof paper and beans and bake for a further five minutes until the pastry is dry to the touch. When I took my tart case out of the oven after 10 minutes everything looked fine but when I checked it again after the 5 minutes of naked baking it had caught around the edges. I had already adjusted my oven down to 180c as it's a rather ferocious fan oven so next time I might turn it down a little more for those last 5 minutes and keep a close watch on it - after all all that lovely icing sugar in the pastry will make it extra burnable!

Once the pastry case is done, turn the oven down to 150c / Gas 2. Finely grate the zest from two of the limes. Squeeze enough limes to give 180ml juice, this could be anything from five to seven limes, depending on their ripeness. Mix the eggs and sugar together, beating lightly for a few seconds - you don't want it to be frothy - then stir in the lime juice and cream. Pour the mixture through a sieve and stir in the lime zest. Pour into the baked tart tin and bake for forty-five to fifty minutes. Remove whilst the filling is still a little wobbly and leave to cool. Makes enough for eight (though my Mum and I happily polished off half of it in one sitting!).

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