Saturday, 28 November 2015

Super for holiday entertaining - Wholemeal Lemon and Strawberry Tarts

Nothing heralds the beginning of summer like an abundance of strawberries, and at no time in the season are they as delicious as they are now. It's the taste of the promise of summer, and treats not seen since last year, that makes them so much of an early season treat. Ask me in January and I'll tell you that raspberries are the star, but for this early part of summer it's all about the strawberry. Here's my little early season contribution to summer entertaining. 

For this recipe I used wholemeal flour to add a bit more bite and a nutty flavour to the tart cases. The pastry is super easy to make in the food processor and the lemon curd will keep in the fridge for about a week. If you have all the components ready it only takes minutes to assemble before the guests arrive. 

Wholemeal Lemon and Strawberry Tarts

For the lemon curd:
the zest and juice of 4 lemons
165g caster sugar
80g butter - softened
2 large eggs - well beaten

Find a large heat proof bowl that will fit neatly into a saucepan to form a water bath. 

Put the pot on to boil while you prepare the ingredients. In the heat proof bowl, combine the lemon zest and sugar. Stir them around to crush the zest into the sugar. Add the lemon juice and butter. 

Place the bowl over the boiling water in the sauce pan. Stir the mixture until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. 

Take the bowl from the heat and stir in the well beaten eggs. Take care to keep the mixture moving as you don't want the egg to cook on the bottom or sides of the bowl. I use a rubber spatula for this. 

Return the bowl to the saucepan, continue to stir constantly and cook slowly until the mixture thickens to a creamy consistency. 

If you think it's cooking too quickly, just remove from the heat for a few minutes, stir, then return again once you're happy its not overcooking. Don't overcook or the mixture will curdle. 

Set aside to cool stirring from time to time, then place in the fridge to chill. 

For the pastry:
300g wholemeal flour
200g cold butter
100g caster sugar
4 tablespoons cold water

Place the flour, butter and sugar in the food processor and blend until it looks like crumbs. 

With the motor running, add the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough forms into a ball.  

Press into a lump and cover with cling wrap. Chill for at least half an hour in the fridge. 

Once chilled, preheat the oven to 180deg. C

Take half the mixture and roll it in between two sheets of baking paper until about 4 to 5mm thick.
The remaining half can be chilled for later or frozen for up to 3 months.

Use the old trick of lifting the top sheet, sprinkling the dough with flour, then replacing the paper and flipping the whole lot over. Remove the top sheet and the dough will be easy to remove from the bottom layer of paper. 

Using a fluted circular cutter, cut out as many circles as will fit. Gather up the off cuts and repeat the process. 

Place the pastry circles into shallow tart tins and bake for 15 minutes at 180deg. C.

Once baked, remove them to a cooling tray so they don't sweat in the tin. 

Leave to cool. 

half the pastry will make about 22 cases 
cooled lemon curd
a punnet of strawberries or any other summer fruit. 

Place a teaspoon of lemon curd into each case, then top with sliced strawberries. 

If you would like a creamier tart. Mix the curd with an equal quantity of mascapone cheese. 
These tarts are best assembled close to serving as you want the wholemeal cases to remain crispy. The cases will keep quite happily in an air tight container for a few days. 

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