|A classic lemon meringue, if it ain't broke...|
My favourite baking tins in the kitchen are my individual, loose-bottomed tart tins. I love how handy they are. They were bought for making goats cheese tarts and quiches, so that I could cook a couple and pop the rest into the freezer. Also, I love making desserts in them, having an individual tart all to myself really brings out the kid in me. Either that or you could pretend that it is a normal sized tart and that you are a giant.
I have piped the meringue topping on these and blow torched the top, just as one of my favourite bakeries do. While they do look pretty, the piping left the meringue less airy and fluffy than I like, and frankly I wouldn't bother doing it again unless the queen was coming to tea. I usually just pile it up on top of the lemon filling and put it into the oven until it has turned a nice toasted golden color.
350g sweet dessert pastry (make your own or buy a good quality all-butter one).
2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
2 level tbsp cornflour
100g caster sugar
2 large lemons, zested
175ml lemon juice
85g butter, chilled and diced
3 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg, beaten
Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Roll out the pastry - not too thick and not too thin. Put 6 tart tins on a large baking sheet and line with the pastry, leaving the sides overhanging a little. Fill each tin with scrunched-up baking paper and beans and bake blind for 15 minutes. Take out the beans and paper and cook for another 5-10 minutes until there are no uncooked pastry patches. Trim the edges flush with the tart rings.
To make the lemon filling, mix the cornflour, sugar and lemon zest in a pan. Sieve in the lemon juice gradually, then stir in 150ml water. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Once the mixture bubbles, remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted. Stir the eggs into the pan and return to a lowish heat. Keep stirring for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens and just bubbles. Take off the heat and leave to cool a little, then divide between the pastry cases.
Put the egg whites in a clean bowl, whisk to soft peaks then start adding the sugar a tbsp at a time, whisking each one in. Keep going until all the sugar is used up and the meringue is stiff and shiny.
Pile spoonfuls of the meringue on top of the filling (instead of piping it - it's nicer, unless of course, the Queen is coming to tea!). Put the tarts back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the meringue is peaked with gold. Cool completely before serving.