It’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post, I have to admit the prospect of sitting down and writing some words has become quite daunting.
In the last few months, I’ve barely done any baking, this recipe was created and photographed way back in March. I just haven’t felt like I’ve got anything interesting to say about baking or the joys of lemon tart. I haven’t lost my love for baking, but life and other things have just taken over for a bit.
I know that sounds quite ominous, but I can assure you that all is fine, it’s very good actually and maybe that’s why I haven’t needed to lean on this space so much to write and create. At the beginning of the year I attended a fantastic photography course with Tara Liondaris. I learnt so much and the whole experience meant I went home with a strong desire to cook and to photograph my creations.
That was back in February and since then, things have lost steam, when I first started blogging it was just me shouting out into the ether with a few people reading the odd post – most of whom I knew personally.
Whilst I’m really glad my readership has expanded, I began to lose my way and became overwhelmed by all of the supporting social media necessary to share my content with the world. Instagram, Instagram Stories, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Yummly, not to mention SEO, I just felt like it became all too much for one person that just wants to bake things in her kitchen and share them with other interested parties.
Blogging has become big business, no longer an online diary of one person’s exploits. Instead teams of people work behind the scenes, virtual assistants are used to help with promotion, scheduling tools are used to help with posting to social media. I have no problem with any of this and I understand that the big websites/blogs or those choosing to make a living from blogging need to do these things to keep their content fresh and searchable.
I can’t keep up with this level of self-promotion and I shouldn’t be disappointed in myself when I fall short of the mark. So I decided to put less pressure on myself and I took a step back from blogging, without really meaning to. Most nights I would get my laptop out and sit down ready to write, but nothing came. I’d look through my recipe books and there was nothing I felt like baking, so the gap between posts grew.
In the time I’ve been away, I haven’t done anything amazing. We’ve done some redecorating and had some work done in our garden. I’ve spent some time looking after myself (I know that sounds incredibly clichéd). Not having all the baked treats around and increasing my exercise has done wonders. I’ve started running (jogging…slowly) with our dog a few times a week and that has meant that I’ve lost over a stone and I feel so much better.
This isn’t suddenly going to turn into a healthy patisserie blog, don’t worry, but I wanted to be honest with you all as to why there’s been a gap and what I have been up to.
Now back to the lemon tart, this recipe is adapted from Julie Jones’ book Soulful Baker and it is a truly delicious recipe.
- ***Sweet shortcrust Pastry***
- 230g Plain Flour
- 125g Unsalted Butter
- 50g Icing Sugar
- ½ Tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1 Egg Yolk + 1 Egg Yolk for glazing
- 2 Tbsp Milk
- ***Lemon Custard***
- 6 Eggs
- 240g Caster Sugar
- 4 Lemons
- 170ml Double Cream
- ***Italian Meringue***
- 50g Egg White
- 60g Granulated Sugar
- 20ml Water
- Make the pastry. Place the flour and butter in the food processor and gently mix until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the icing sugar and cinnamon and mix through.
- Add the egg yolk and the milk and mix until it starts to form a dough.Take the dough out of the machine and shape it into a block about 1cm thick, this will make it easier to roll out.
- Rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Take a 25cm flan/pie dish and roll out the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper so that you don't add any extra flour. When the pastry is rolled out big enough to cover the tin lay the pastry over the tin, pressing it into the sides and base of the tin.
- Leave the excess pastry overhanging the edge, this will help with shrinkage. Trim the pastry a little if necessary.
- Place the pastry case in the fridge for 30mins to chill a little. Pre-heat the oven to 180C Fan/200C and line the pastry case with baking parchment and baking beans. Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes. Then remove the baking beans and baking parchment and return to the oven for 5 minutes.
- Check the pastry over to see if it needs any of the cracks patching use some raw pastry and fill the holes. Take the egg wash and brush it all over the pastry and bake for another 15 minutes.
- When the pastry is golden, remove it from the oven.
- To make the lemon custard, crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat together using a fork, trying not to incorporate too much air while doing so. Add the sugar, zest of 1 of the lemons and juice of all 4, and finally the cream. Mix together thoroughly, then set aside for 10 minutes. If after this time any froth appears on the surface, spoon off and discard. Pass through a sieve, straining into a large jug or something that can be poured from easily.
- Plce the cooked tart still in its tin on a baking tray and place it in the middle shelf of the preheated oven.Pull the shelf out and carefully pour the lemon custard into the pastry case, filling as close to the top as you can. If any bubbles rise to the surface they can easily be popped by running the flame of a blow torch over the surface, but this isn't a necessity. Gently ease the shelf back into the oven, close the oven door and bake for 35 minutes.
- Whenready the tart should have a sliht wobble towards the centre. If when gently shaken you feel it is still rippling towards the outer part of the tart, bake for a further 10 minutes and then re-check. The tart can go from being seemingly under cooked to being set solid in no time so be vigilant. Once you are happy with the consisitency removefrom the oven, leave the tart in its tin and leave it to cool completely. It will continue to set further.
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl of an electric mixer.
- Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over a medium heat and boil until it reaches 121C.
- Gently pour the boiling syrup into the meringue and have the whites whisking on a slow speed while this is happening.
- After all the syrup has been added, increase the speed to maximum and whisk the egg whites until they are cool to the touch.
- When the meringue is ready and at stiff peak stage put it in a piping bag with a star nozzle attached and pipe meringue in patterns or blobs.
- Using a chef's blowtorch, cook the top of the meringue. You can then serve the lemon tart immediately or store it in an airtight container.
- It's not advised to store this in the fridge as the pastry will become soft and the meringue will break down.
Thanks for reading and I hope there wont be as long between posts next time.