Sunday, September 12, 2010

Free lemons and a lemon tart to sweeten your day

The sight of a basket full of lemons propped on someone's front fence with a 'please help yourself' sign is enough to make your heart sing. That's what mine did anyway as I was cycling through Seddon and came across this scene. How sweet is that? Certainly gives you a nicer feeling than having to contort your body over a stranger's fence in order to reach the only lemon that hasn't been snaffled by another equally brazen passer-by. It is these thoughtful and generous gestures that create a lovely feeling of community. Just what I was looking for this weekend as I took a late afternoon "test ride" on my bike to my new workplace.

Now that I am living, working and snaffling free lemons within a 1.5km radius of Footscray CBD, cycling to work seems almost compulsory (not that I've done it). After catching the train to the city for the last few years, driving the car such a short distance seems quite odd, a little silly and even indulgent. I'm loving the peaceful drive home listening to Hack on JJJ but hating the guilt of joining a stream of single-passenger vehicles that spew exhaust unmercifully into the atmosphere. How I loathe guilt.

I am very excited to report that it seems the ride will only take a couple of minutes more than the car trip. Of course, it will take me a little longer to prepare in the mornings and fix my helmet hair at the other end (!) but I might save myself some time at the gym. Even though my bike basket is perfect for carting around lemons from kind strangers, I fear it will not be so good at transporting baked delights to win over my new colleagues. Lucky, I have already made a start at winning them over with this lemon tart.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the free Seddon lemons last week but that didn't seem to matter to my hungry colleagues. The citrus tang seemed to sweeten them up regardless! While easy, the recipe was very time-consuming but I thought that was fitting given it takes time to build relationships. And giving your time is one of the best ways to show sincerity. So if you're trying to meet everyone at a new workplace and learn their names, of if you want to show someone that they mean a lot to you, put aside a few hours and get tarty!

Lemon Tart

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon icing sugar
pinch of salt
130g cold unsalted butter, cut into samll pieces
1 egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons cold water

5 eggs
3/4 cups caster sugar
1-2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup thickened cream

To make pastry, blend together flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (don't worry if there are still some small lumps of butter). Add egg yolk and water and process until mixture begins to clump togehter. Roll pastry into a ball. wrap in plastic film and refridgerate for 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured board, roll pastry out into a round piece 30cm across. Use to line a greased 24-cm loose-bottomed flan tin, covering the base and sides - trim so that pastry is half a centimetre above the rim. Refridgerate another 30 minutes.

Preheat over to 190°C.

Bake blind (line pastry with baking paper and fill with uncooked rice, dried pulses or pastry weights) for about 15 minutes, until the top edges are golden. Remove baking paper and weights and return shell to oven. Bake a further 10-15 minutes, until bottom and sides are golden. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes. reduce oven temperature to 180°C.

To make filling, whisk together all ingredients until well combined. Pour filling into shell and bake for 20-30 minutes, until filling has almost set - it should still tremble a little when shaken gently. Cool in the tin on a wire rack, the refridgerate until cold.

Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Serves 8-10

Recipe source: Penguin Dessert Bible

If you fancy a chocolate tart over a lemon one, see my earlier post on the Donna Hay bitter chocolate meringue tart. Tart it up!

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