This is the Roux Brothers!!
When the Culinary Camel was studying at the Culinary Institute of America (stand up straight when I’m talking to you!), we walked past the test kitchen on the way to our class (to disembowel various endangered species). Behind the glass, two very serious looking Frenchmen. Yes, I hear you ask “was De Gaulle in town, inspecting the plans for the Magineaux line?”, “was Napoleon selecting a chef for the invasion of Peru?”…no, none of these anachronisms were in play. This was something far more profound….
These 2 men were the men that had invaded England a few years before, and opened the first 2 restaurants in England ever to be awarded 3 Michelin stars.
You don’t get how important that is, do you?
Until they arrived, you couldn’t get anything resembling food in that nation of 4 countries, The United Kingdom. Remember, it was a united Kingdom, but united by guns, not butter.
We watched the in awe…not for what they were cooking, but for the feat of inoculation into British cuisine that none thought was possible.
This is not a typical lemon tart you will find in a cafe. This is a tower of perfect lemon curd sitting upright, barely able to hold itself under its own weight, atop the fines short crust pastry there is.
Do not deviate or change one molecule, degree or minute of this recipe, or 2 old French buggers will parachute through your ceiling and into your kitchen.
You will never be heard of again….
Make 1 or 2 days ahead, and ice just before serving…
For the base.
200g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temp, in a large bowl.
Sift in 100g icing sugar and a pinch of salt, and work in with clean hands.
When totally mixed, add 2 egg yolks, and mix lightly.
Sift in 250g plain flour, using your right hand to amalgamate it thoroughly into the dough, but do not overwork it. Roll it into a ball, wrapped in glad wrap, and chill for several hours, or overnight. It will keep for a few days.
Now when you use the dough, you must not overwork it. This is a delicate dough, and you’ll taste the difference soon….
Preheat the oven to 170C.
Roll out the dough (it is ok to do it between sheets of glad wrap or greaseproof paper, or just a floured rolling pin on a clean, perfectly flat, lightly floured surface. It should be about 4mm thick, and even. As it warms, it gets tricky, so work fast.
Grease (best with brushed, melted butter…olive oil spray is ok if you have to, but not chemical sprays) a 22cm tin, that is 3.5cm tall (or a little taller). The tin may be a spring-form, or a newer silicone. You will need to have a way to get the tart out, without having to turn it upside down.
Line the tin with the pastry. It’s fine if the upper edges are a bit uneven…it will look good either way. Just be sure there are no gaps.
Place greaseproof paper all around the base, and half way up the side. Pour rice or dried chick peas or other legumes into the base (to stop it warping), and put into the oven for 10 minutes (no less, no more). This blind bake will make sure the base is cooked later, so the 4mm thickness is important here. remove from the oven, remove the rice/beans/paper, and set aside.
Lower the oven to 150c
Wash and grate 4 lemons, and add their juice to a bowl (together)
Whisk 9 eggs together with 375g caster sugar in a bowl, just until fully blended, no more required.
Add 300ml double cream. This does vary country to country, but the rather solid Gippsland (or other brand) double cream in Australia is fine. just bring it to room temperature, so it will whisk into the egg mix..whisk lightly, this is not a beating! Stir in the lemon juice and zest…be sure it’s very evenly mixed.
Add the mix to the pastry shell, and bake for 40 minutes. If the top is getting too dark too soon, cover with foil loosely.
When cooked, remove from the oven (go figure!), and remove the spring for side, or remove from the tin or silicone before completely cool (but not straight away!).
When cool, refrigerate in glad wrap for 24-72 hours. Stand at room temperature for at least an hour (up to 3 hours) before dusting with icing sugar, and serving with a few berries and cream.
You will see…it was worth the work…