Crumbly sweet pastry is the perfect base for lemony crème pâtissière
1 sweet shortcrust pastry
300ml milk 6 large egg yolks 75g vanilla sugar 50g plain flour Grated rind of 2 lemons 60ml freshly squeezed lemon juice 25g butter, diced 2 large egg whites Pinch of salt 100g caster sugar Icing sugar to decorate
Step 1) Make the pastry and leave to rest.
Step 2) Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, Gas Mark 6. Roll out the pastry to 3mm thick and cut 6 circles with a 15cm pastry cutter. Press into 10cm fluted metal flan tins with removable bases. Prick the pastry. Bake blind (using baking parchment and baking beans) for 20 minutes.
Step 3) Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Step 4) To make the crème pâtissière, heat the milk until almost boiling.
Step 5) In a medium bowl whisk the egg yolks, vanilla sugar and flour. Add the hot milk and whisk the mixture again for 1 minute. Pour it into the hot pan. Bring nearly to boiling point and cook over a moderate heat for 2-3 minutes or until thick.
Step 6) Stir in the lemon rind and then the juice and butter. Cool over iced water.
Step 7) Divide the mixture between the tart cases and bake for 5 minutes more.
Step 8) To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites and salt in a deep, clean bowl until soft peaks are formed. Whisk in most of the caster sugar until slightly stiffer peaks form. Fold in the rest using a palette knife.
Step 9) Pipe, spoon or swirl the meringue on to the tarts. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C, Gas Mark 3 and bake for 10-15 minutes until the points of the meringue are just beginning to colour. Serve warm or cool, dusted liberally with sieved icing sugar.