Lemon tart with praline ice cream

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

Appears in

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

By Denis Cotter

Published 1999

  • About

We went through a number of different lemon tart recipes before settling on this one, which I have to acknowledge is based on the brilliant River Café version. It uses a shocking amount of eggs, which made me very nervous at first, especially as we use expensive free-range eggs. But, probably the most important ingredient here is your own calm nature and patience, while you stand over the custard thickening on the stove top. That time spent whisking is where the tart gets its perfectly set texture from, a texture that holds about as much lemon flavour as is possible. No better way to finish a rich meal.

Ingredients

For the Pastry

  • 100 g plain flour
  • 50 g cold unsalted butter
  • 30 g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk

For the Filling

  • 3 large lemons, rind and juice
  • 175 g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 150 g unsalted butter, diced

For the Praline Ice Cream

Method

CUT THE BUTTER INTO SMALL DICE and rub into the flour, using the pulse facility of a food processor, or your fingers, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the sugar. Lightly beat the egg yolk with a fork and add a little water, to give 25 mls of liquid. Pour this into the flour and butter crumbs and mix it with a few judicious strokes of a wooden spoon until the pastry begins to come together. Now, knead the dough very briefly and lightly to get a smooth flattened ball. Wrap and refrigerate it for at least one hour. Take the pastry ball, roll it to fit a 10-inch flan tin and blind-bake it at 375°F (Gas Mark 5) for 10-15 minutes until lightly coloured.

BLIND BAKE THE PASTRY CASE at 375°F (Gas Mark 5), then turn the oven up to 450°F (Gas Mark 8).

Put all the ingredients except the butter into a saucepan over the lowest possible heat and start whisking, slowly but constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. Add in half the butter and continue whisking until the mixture starts to thicken. This will take about six to eight minutes, so be calm — faster whisking or a higher heat won’t help the cause. Now add in the rest of the butter and carry on with the whisking until the custard is very thick — probably another five minutes or so. It is crucial that it does not come to the boil during this stage. Next pour it through a fine sieve into the bowl of a food mixer and use the electric whisk of the mixer to continue whisking until the filling is lukewarm. If you don’t have a free-standing electric whisk, you’ll just have to carry on by hand, but you’ll probably want to give up and cry by now. Spare a thought for the dedicated folks who do this, day in, day out, for no more than the honour and glory. Pour the lemon filling into the prepared pastry case and bake it in a hot oven, 450°F (Gas Mark 8), for 12 minutes, maybe 13, but no more. It will be only slightly darker than when it went in, and may not appear to be set, but it will firm up as it cools. Leave it to cool completely, it is best eaten cold, with some praline ice cream, or just a blob of cream.

WHILE MAKING THE RECIPE for vanilla ice cream; add a few spoonfuls of praline when the ice cream has firmed up to the consistency of whipped cream. Allow the praline to be folded in by the churning of the ice cream machine or, if you are doing this manually, stir it in gently. Just before the ice cream is fully frozen, test it to see if there is enough praline for your liking.