Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lemon Cheese Tart

It's the last day of Winter, which means Spring is tomorrow. I'm sad that the cooler months are over, but happy since berries, mangoes, pineapples and other Summer fruit are coming. Technically lemons should be out of season soon, but these days shops have everything all year round. This recipe comes from a cookbook called Cheesecakes by Maxine Clark. I made this for a dinner with family friends, and they all loved it.

Basically, this is a cheesecake in a tart shell. The use of lemon zest is very interesting, and it produced a great citrusy flavour. I had a bit of trouble working with the pastry, but it obeyed me in the end. I also left the tart in the oven too long, giving it a brown surface, but it did not affect the taste.

I have been and will be making a lot of tarts, small and big, these days. This was so nice, but next time I would dust it with a little caster sugar, just to balance out the sourness. I say this year's Winter was awesome, and Spring's gonna rock!


Obtained from Cheesecakes by Maxine Clark

Shortcrust Base

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 egg yolks
2-3 tablespoons iced water

Cheesecake Filling

1 unwaxed lemon
75g caster sugar
350g full-fat cream cheese
1 large egg plus 3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla essence

1. Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and, using your fingertips, rub it in until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg yolks mixed with at least 2 tablespoons iced water to make a firm but malleable dough.

2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. Shape the dough into a flattened ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

3. Preheat the oven to 190°C.

4. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured work surface to about 5mm and use to line a 23cm tart tin. Prick the base with a fork, then chill or freeze for 15 minutes. Cut out a large piece of paper then fill with uncooked beans or rice.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the baking parchment and beans and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Let cool.

6. Using a vegetable peeler or zester, remove the zest from the lemon leaving behind any white pith, then squeeze the juice. Put the lemon zest and sugar in a food processor or blender and process until the sugar mixture looks damp.

7. Add the lemon juice and process again (the lemon zest should have completely dissolved in the sugar), then add the soft cream cheese, the whole egg, egg yolks and vanilla essence and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pastry case.

8. Bake the tart for 25 minutes or until just set and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and let cool. Serve at room temperature.

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