I am quite a lemon-lover and I always keep some lemons in my fridge. I used lemons in salad, for making desserts, or simply mix honey in warm water with a squeeze of lemon juice for a refreshing healthy drink. And that's not all ... the lemon skin has great uses too. Besides using lemon skins to scrub the chopping board and kitchen sink, it's also an all-natural non-toxic cleaner for the microwave oven. Simply place a few lemon skins with a bowl of water in microwave, heat on high for two to three minutes till it's boiling and steaming away. Wait for another few minutes, then clean the oven with a dry kitchen towel.
For this lemon meringue tart, I used the juice from two and a half lemons to prepare the lemon curd. Depending on how tangy you like the tart to be, you can always adjust the amount of lemon juice and/or sugar to taste.
To get the most juice from your lemon, get the thin-skinned lemon. Press and roll the whole lemon against the kitchen counter-top for a few times. Wash them clean, grate the lemon for its zest, before cutting them into halves. Then poke each halves with a fork for several times. Hold the fork, insert into the half lemon, and squeeze the juice out with your other hand, moving the fork up/down as you squeezed.
(8" loose-bottom tart pan)
180g plain flour
2 tsp caster sugar
90g unsalted butter
1 egg yolk + 2 to 3 tbsp water
A pinch of salt
A little egg white
1) Combine flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and rub in butter (using your finger tips) till it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2) Stir in the egg yolk mixture and combine to form a dough.
3) Wrap the dough in cling wrap and chill for an hour in the fridge.
4) Roll out the dough between baking paper and cling wrap. The roll-out dough sheet should be slightly bigger than the tart pan.
5) Transfer the dough sheet to cover the tart pan. Trim the edges and chill again for another 15 mins before baking.
6) Prick the pastry base with a fork and blind-bake in a preheated oven of 180C for 20 minutes. Remove tart from the oven and brush a thin layer of egg white on the partially-baked tart shell, and bake for a further 15 minutes or till golden brown. Leave aside to cool.
Lemon curd filling:
Juice & zest from 2.5 lemons - about 150ml lemon juice
4 egg yolks (medium-sized)
80g butter, cut into small pieces
1.5 tsp custard powder + 1.5 tbsp water (A)
1) Mix lemon juice, sugar, egg yolks and (A) in a mixing bowl and place it over a pot of simmering water.
2) Keep stirring to prevent it from curdling. When the mixture becomes thick (about 10 minutes), remove from heat and pour through a strainer.
3) Gradually whisk in the butter pieces into the lemon curd and stir in the lemon zest.
4) Cover the top of the lemon curd with cling wrap to prevent a skin from forming on top. Let it cool slightly.
3 egg whites, room temperature
60g to 100g caster sugar (depends on how sweet you like it to be)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites till foamy. Add in the cream of tartar. Gradually add the sugar and continue whisking till stiff peak.
[Note: I used 60g sugar, and only managed to get the whites to medium peak, i.e. need to use more sugar to yield stiff peak]
1) Spread lemon curd into tart shell.
2) Pipe or spread the meringue onto the lemon curd.
3) Place in oven (top heat only) at 200C to brown the meringue for about 2 minutes.
[Note: Alternatively, some recipes call for pouring the hot lemon curd into the partially-baked tart, then bake together in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, before topping with meringue, and bake further to brown the meringue. This method should yield a firmer curd filling.]
I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #10: Easy as Pie (August 2011), hosted by Janine of "Not the Kitchen Sink!".
Here are other ideas on using the lemon curd:
Lemon Curd Soft Cheesecake
Lemon Curd Cheese Tart