Saturday, August 27, 2011
Penny's Lemon and Coconut Tart
Today's post started with an invitation to dinner at a friend's house. I had volunteered to make dessert and thought it was time to dust off the tart cases I had purchased about ten years ago at a closing down sale and had never used.
My friend Penny makes a mean lemon and coconut tart, which she very kindly brought along to dinner at my place not long ago. She even swore it was super-duper easy! Suddenly I thought... lemon tart + unused tart cases = a moment of genius. The plan also had the benefit of using shredded coconut, which is officially my new favourite thing (as you might have guessed from the number of recipes featuring coconut in recent times on Four Figs).
Penny's recipe is of the never-fail kind, something I know I appreciate and thought you might too. It's always great to have a dessert that can be made in a pinch from pantry basics - lemons, flour, butter, sugar, eggs and shredded coconut straight out of the cupboard. And given that this was a non-pay week, it also has the benefit of being quite an economical option. The only thing I had to purchase was plain yoghurt.
Now, I am not much of a natural pastry maker. As a result, I took a pastry making course at Podfood (now 3 Seeds) a while ago. To be honest, this recipe was my first ever stab at shortcrust pastry since the class I took in November last year. I used the 3 Seeds recipe for sweet shortcrust rather than the one from Penny's recipe largely because I had seen it made, so I thought I might have a better chance of success. I am not sure if this was a stellar example of pastry-making skills, but it didn't turn out to be completely inedible and the only way is up from here. The cases shrunk a little at the sides, which meant the filling dripped over the edge a little bit in places. Not that this made it any less delicious!
The filling recipe Penny recommended came from the Marie Claire Kitchen Cookbook - and Penny was right, the filling is perfectly stress-free after the (what I regard as) stressful process of making the tart cases. If you're after the super-duper easy version, by all means buy the pre-made pastry cases in the freezer section of your supermarket and blind bake away. I know I had one waiting just in case the homemade shortcrust pastry completely tanked.
Lemon and Coconut Tart
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Cases (care of 3 Seeds)
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1/4 cup icing sugar
- 180 grams unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
- approximately 3-5 tablespoons chilled water
Lemon and Coconut Filling (care of Penny and the Marie-Claire Kitchen Cookbook)
- 125 grams unsalted butter, softened
- 350 grams caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 150 grams plain yoghurt
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh (I got this from one lemon - but juiciness varies!)
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest (the zest of two medium-sized lemons)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 1 cup shredded coconut (you can also use the same amount of desiccated coconut)
Take out your 125 grams of unsalted butter for the filling and allow to soften on the bench. This is also a good time to remove your 4 eggs from the fridge so they can come to room temperature. Now, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius and grease your tart tins (either two smaller tart cases or one large 25 cm tart tin). I used tins that have a removable base, which really helped with getting the tarts out of their cases later on.
Dust off your food processor and set it up on the bench - the shortcrust it fairly quick when you use the processor. The trick is to make sure the butter and water you are going to use are chilled in the fridge before you start. Now pop your flour, icing sugar and butter in the processor and process until it looks a lot like coarse breadcrumbs. While it's processing drizzle in the chilled water a tablespoon at a time until the pastry forms a ball in the processor. Stop immediately once this happens. Cover the ball in cling film and put it into the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out on a floured bench. You need to put quite a bit of flour on the bench (which should be cleaned beforehand) and on your rolling pin so the pastry doesn't stick to either the bench or the pin. Roll it out as thinly as possible, I managed about 3 millimetres.
Next, drape the pastry over the tart case/s and gently press it in until it lines the tin. Cut off the excess and prick the base of the tart case with a fork. Place the tart case/s back in the fridge for 30 minutes, or in the freezer for 15 minutes. This will help the cases hold their shape in the oven, so it's worth the extra time and fuss. Go make yourself a cup of tea or put on a load of washing.
Now, cut some baking paper to into a circle a bit wider than the circumference of the tart case and crush it up as if you were going to ball up a piece of paper to go in the bin. I didn't do this with my cases, but read about this tip afterwards and I can see it would make it much easier. Uncrush the paper and pop the baking paper in the cases then add rice to weight the tart case. Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until cooked through but not too brown. Remove the cases from the oven and cool on racks. Don't turn off the oven - you'll need it for the next step.
You can make the filling with either a hand beater or a fixed stand mixer like a Kitchenaid. First cream the butter and sugar until its light and aerated. Add the eggs one at a time until combined, then add the yoghurt, lemon juice, zest and vanilla paste. Finally, stir in the coconut and then pour into the cooled pastry cases. These go back into the oven for a further 30 minutes at 180 degrees Celcius. You'll know when they're ready as the filling will brown on top and be firm to the touch. Remove and cool on racks before attempting to remove from their cases. A great tip from the Kitchen cookbook is to stand the cases on an upturned medium-sized bowl and allow the rim of the case to fall away.
I sliced the tart and served it with a dusting of icing sugar and a sprinkling of toasted unsweetened shredded coconut. The Red Avenger contributed some delicious vanilla cheesecake ice cream to accompany the dessert which complemented the lemon-tart flavours perfectly.