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Italian lemon meringue tart

Short crisp almond pastry, sharp and sweet silky lemon filling and soft pillowy Italian meringue peaks. I’ve tweaked a classic and if I do say so myself the result is delicious…

a sensory trip to the Amalfi coast!

I like to try to get hold of Amalfi lemons. Really good artisanal shops or supermarkets sell them. Grown on cliff terraces on the Amalfi coast; they’re much bigger, more aromatic and the difference in flavour is quite startling from a common or garden lemon, and to be honest if we’re giving this glorious dessert an Italian name it really should have only the best authentic ingredients.

Before you start you will need a 26cm parchment lined loose bottom tart tin, stand mixer, food processor and a thermometer for the sugar syrup.

Here's how......

Ingredients for amaretto pastry

120g salted butter

1 small egg beaten

30g ground almonds

220g plain flour

70g icing sugar

1 tbsp amaretto liqueur

Amalfi lemon filling

Zest of 3 large Amalfi lemons

160ml lemon juice (roughly 3-4 lemons)

3 tbsp cornflour

130g caster sugar

100g butter

4 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg (save the whites for the meringue)

Italian meringue ingredients

300g caster or granulated sugar

120g egg whites (roughly white from large 4 eggs)

1 level tsp cream of tartar (stabilises egg whites)

120 ml water

Method for amaretto pastry.

You can do this by hand, but I’m going to give you the super quick and easy way!

Pre heat the oven to 180c

1. Add flour and almonds to a food processor with a chopping blade.

2. Start on medium speed to combine and add chunks of cold butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Add icing sugar and pulse to combine.

4. Add amaretto and beaten egg and keep pulsing until it comes together to form a rough ball of dough.

5. Remove and form into a smooth ball. Don’t knead it.

6. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 mins.

7. Roll out pastry to about a £1 coin thickness and line the tin allowing the pastry to drape over the edges, this is fragile pastry, don’t stress if it breaks just patch it up.

8. Prick the base with a fork evenly everywhere.

9. Refrigerate for 10 minutes while the oven pre heats to 180c.

10. Place a large piece of parchment over the pastry. (I find scrunching it up first makes it more pliable) Then add baking beans to the base to stop it from rising. You can also use dried pulses.

11. Place in the oven and ‘blind bake’ for 15 minutes.

12. Remove paper and beans and bake for another 8- 10 minutes to crisp up the base.

13. Allow to cool then trim the edges of the pastry to neaten. I use a serrated bread knife.

Amalfi lemon filling method

1. Add cornflour, zest sugar and juice to a saucepan, mix well.

2. Heat until sugar dissolves and it starts to thicken.

3. Add 260ml water and whisk well until filling is thick and bubbling.

4. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.

5. Now whisk in beaten eggs

6. Return to a low heat and beat until the mixture thickens considerably. It should blob off the spoon.

7. ¾ Fill the pastry base with filling.

Italian meringue method.

1. Put sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves, bring to a low bubbling simmer.

2. Add whites to a stand mixer with a balloon whisk attachment or use an elecric hand whisk. Add cream of tartar and whisk to soft peaks.

3. Use the thermometer and bring syrup up to 120c then slowly drizzle whilst whisking.

4. Incorporate all the syrup until you have firm pillowy peaks.

5. Gently pile up your meringue, as high as you like on top of the lemon base, starting around the edges toward the centre,

6. Place on the middle shelf of the oven at 170c for 20 minutes, or until the top is golden.

7. Turn off the oven and allow to cool in the oven. (this stops the meringue collapsing from the rapid change in temperature)

8. Remove from the oven when totally cool. (usually a couple of hours.)

Enjoy with friends and family, but remember you’ve earned the biggest slice!

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