Berry, Meringue & Honeycomb Lemon Tart

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    9

Appears in

Bake

Bake

By Lorraine Pascale

Published 2017

  • About

My whole ethos has always been to keep things simple when it comes to baking, and to cut acceptable corners without scrimping on quality. However, there are some recipes that have no corners to cut and so you just have to go all out. There are quite a few elements to this show-stopping tart, but set aside some hours in a day (or 2 days if you want to make the meringue kisses ahead of time) and enjoy the process of creating something super special.

Ingredients

  • 250 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 125 g unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • large pinch of salt
  • 1–4 tsp cream or whole milk, if needed
  • 400 g mixed berries

For the Swiss meringue

  • 3 egg whites
  • 100 g caster sugar

For the lemon cream

  • 500 ml whole milk
  • zest of 4 lemons
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 160 g caster sugar
  • 40 g cornflour
  • seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the honeycomb

  • 40 g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 80 g caster sugar
  • 40 g golden syrup
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Equipment

  • food processor (optional)
  • sugar thermometer
  • stand mixer
  • piping bag with 1cm plain nozzle
  • 23cm fluted square tart tin, about 3cm deep, or 26cm loose-bottomed fluted tart tin
  • ceramic baking beans or dried pulses or rice

Method

First, make the Swiss meringue kisses. Preheat the oven to 110°C (fan 90°C/225°F/gas ¼). Fill a medium pan with 5cm of water and place it on the hob. Bring the water to the boil over a high heat, and as soon as it is boiling reduce to a simmer. Meanwhile, put the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl and whisk them up until they become light and frothy.

Put the bowl over the now simmering water and keep whisking for 10 minutes, or until the temperature reaches 70°C (160°F) on the sugar thermometer. Once it has reached the correct temperature, remove it from the heat and pour the meringue into the bowl of a stand mixer.

Whisk the meringue on high for 5 minutes, or until the mixture has cooled down to body temperature, increased in volume and is glossy with stiff peaks. To check that the meringue is ready, pick up some of it with the whisk, then turn the whisk meringue-covered end up – the meringue should be super stiff and not floppy.

Add the plain nozzle to the piping bag and half-fill it with the meringue – filling halfway ensures that the meringue does not squidge out of the top when you are piping. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and use some of the meringue in each corner to stick it down. The meringue will act like glue, stopping your parchment from flying around in the oven. Pipe out about 55 meringue kisses, each about 3cm in diameter, refilling the piping bag when you run out. Place the kisses in the oven to bake for about 1½ hours or until the meringues are dried out. Once the kisses are baked, remove them from the oven and leave to cool completely.

As the meringue kisses are baking make the pastry. Put the flour and butter in a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you’re using your hands, rub the butter and flour together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks, icing sugar and salt and stir them together with a knife.

Using your hands, squidge the mixture together into a ball. If the pastry feels very dry, add the cream or milk, but try to get by without it for a more tender pastry. Wrap the dough in cling film, press it down into a disc and then pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes to rest and firm up.

Roll the pastry out between two large sheets of baking parchment to a 28cm square. Carefully lift the pastry onto the rolling pin and lay it into the tin, pressing it well into the corners.

Trim the edges with a sharp knife and place the lined tin on a baking sheet. Pop the whole thing in the fridge to rest and firm again for about 15 minutes. I like to reserve pastry trimmings to patch up any cracks in the pastry as it cooks.

As the pastry is firming up, make the lemon cream. Pour the milk into a large pan, add the lemon zest and slowly bring to the boil over a low heat.

Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, caster sugar, cornflour and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk them together to combine. Just before the milk comes to the boil, remove it from the heat. Slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking all the time. When all of the milk has been mixed in, pour the mixture back into the pan. Cook the mixture over a medium–low heat, whisking all the time, until it thickens enough to reach ‘dropping consistency’. To check that the pastry cream mixture is ready, lift up a spoonful and shake it lightly – it should fall off the spoon. Be careful not to allow the mixture to boil or overheat or the eggs will scramble.

Remove the pan from the heat and press a piece of baking parchment down onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming then leave to cool. Pop the whole thing in the fridge until ready to use. This can be made up to a day in advance.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C/350°F/gas 4). Line the pastry case with baking parchment, fill with ceramic baking beans, dried pulses or rice and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and beans and return to the oven to bake for a further 10 minutes, until crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, make the honeycomb. Grease a roasting tray with butter and line it with parchment paper, leaving excess hanging over the edges to lift out the honeycomb once it is set. Put the butter, caster sugar and golden syrup in a medium heavy-based pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil rapidly, without stirring. If using a gas hob, make sure the flame doesn’t ‘lick’ up the sides of the pan, as the sugar will start to burn here.

If some sugar does ‘catch’ at any point, dip a pastry brush into water and brush the sides of the pan to remove the sugar. Keep an eye on it the whole time. If the mixture goes darker on one side of the mix, then gently swirl the pan to mix it all together.

Keep boiling until the mixture goes a good golden honeycomb colour – this will take 3–5 minutes. Add the bicarbonate of soda and stir it for a few seconds to mix it in thoroughly. The mixture will foam up, so working quickly and carefully, tip the honeycomb into the lined roasting tray and leave until cold and set. Then cut or break into pieces to serve.

Fill the pastry case with the pastry cream, spreading it out evenly, and then arrange the berries on top, pointed ends facing upwards. Decorate the tart with about one-third of the meringue kisses and honeycomb pieces. Serve.