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Another lemon tart trauma

"Things taste so much better once you've forgotten the effort of baking them." Lucy Ellmann, Ducks Newburyport

During conversation over last night's birthday dinner for my younger son and his son Max somebody mentioned, whilst a 'funny' Spanish holiday story was being recounted, that it was the disasters that became the funny stories. Well this is one of them, although actually and most surprisingly to me, when it came to the final test, this was not a disaster. Except for the washers up.

So yet another lemon tart was requested as the birthday dessert, although a little surprisingly, the request came from my grandson not my son. Not that my son was disagreeing. It is his favourite dessert after all.

Last year, if you remember, I made the Roux Brothers ultimate version and wrote about it in the blog - My attempt at the Roux Brothers' lemon tart. It was stressful. So I decided I wouldn't try that again. My problem with lemon tart - and I have made many now in my life, is that I can never remember which ones turn out well and are relatively easy and which ones aren't. I dithered for a bit, and then decided I would stick with Belinda Jeffery's Luscious lemon slice. Strictly speaking it's not a tart as there is only pastry on the base and not up the sides, but it's definitely the same kind of thing. The 'official' recipe is not online any more. delicious. used to have it I think but no more. I printed that version out, but now that I have Belinda Jefferey's Collected Recipes I took the recipe from there. And doesn't it look gorgeous. Actually mine doesn't look that bad either, although I decided I wouldn't bother with the pistachio decoration, being unsure of how many of my family like pistachios.

You can find the recipe online though as various bloggers have had a go. I think the first one from Bake for Happy Kids is the actual recipe while the other two that I found tinkered with it by adding things like coconut and spelt flour - Jude Blereau Wholefood cooking and Feed Your Inner Cook

All in all - looking at these three, I don't think mine looked too bad.

So if it turned out alright and if it's better than those last two above, what was the trauma?

Well I had to do some shopping. I had no eggs, and this takes 6 eggs. I also had very few lemons left from my neighbour's bountiful tree, which I now knew had no lemons on it. So off to the shops we go picking up various things for a 'luxury' hamper of Italian ingredients for my son's present - another male who is impossible to buy for. In fact I got so involved in sourcing interesting things for that, that I totally forgot about the lemons! Back home I double-checked the fridge - and sure enough only a couple of lemons were there. I did have some limes though and for a moment I thought I would just do a mix of lemons and limes. But reluctantly I decided that this probably would not do for my fussy son, and so it was back to the shops for another quick gallop around, feeling guilt about the fuel I was using and the pollution I was causing all the way.

But never mind. I decided that instead of using Belinda's large baking tray I would use my two rectangular quiche tins. Because by then I had decided that it actually might be interesting to make one of them as a lemon and lime mix. I also decided that perhaps I should increase the quantities. I really don't know why because the measurement of my two tins added up to exactly the same size as Belinda's tin.

So I made the pastry and that went OK. It fitted the tins perfectly and it cooked perfectly in the suggested time. So far so good.

I also thought I was doing alright with the lemony eggy filling. The nice thing, about this recipe and one of the major reasons I chose it is that it uses whole eggs, and not lots of egg yolks which would leave me with egg whites I don't use. Yes I know I have listed all sorts of interesting things you can do with egg whites but I never do them and mostly just throw them away. Shocking I know.

However, bear in mind that I am now about to make two separate mixes, one with straight lemon, the other with lemon and lime and also that I am trying to make about 1 3/4 of the total ingredient mix. I have no idea now why I settled on that particularly difficult proportion to calculate - it was all a bit haphazard. Anyway it was extremely tedious zesting and juicing so many lemons and limes - I think in the end I used about 5 lemons and 3 limes. It seemed like a lot anyway.

And it left a lot of juiced lemon and lime shells to cut up and dispose of in the compost. Also tedious. But I did it and I thought I had the half and half mixture just right. So with some relief I poured the first mixture into one of the shells which were now resting in a baking tray. Right to the top. Oh dear - a bit risky with regard to sloshing about. But I thought if I was careful I might be just alright. It was a fairly thick mixture after all. So then I did the same with the other one, which was even closer to the top of the quiche tin. I shouldn't have poured the whole mixture in dear people, but I couldn't bear to not use it all up. I knew in my heart this was foolish.

So I opened the door of the oven which had been heated to the right temperature ages ago - oh no - I forgot to turn it down after the pastry was cooked. Which I now hurriedly did. I picked up the tray and started my very slow and very careful progress to the oven. Not slow or careful enough. It sloshed over the tops of the quiche tins and all over the tray. Nothing I could do about that, because it continued to slosh as I slid it into place. At least it was now in the oven and cooking.

I turned to clear everything away and saw my jar of flour. Why was that there? I glanced at the recipe and saw that I was supposed to have added flour to the beaten eggs and sugar. Complete disaster. So what did I do? I took what I thought was the right amount - I now know that it was double what I needed - such was my panic - and sprinkled it into the pastry shells in the oven, which I immediately realised was the height of stupidity. I frantically tried to beat it in with a fork which was, of course, impossible but I did at least get it to sink in. Despair.

When it was cooked - and it did cook to setting point in the required time - I put them on the racks to cool, and after a time, managed to get the outside of the tins off after some teasing away of the slice from the sides of the tin. But decided to leave them on the base so that I could more easily put them in the fridge overnight. We decided to have a taste from one to see if it was a disaster, because there was still the next day if it was. I could always throw it out and start again a prospect I was not looking forward to. But amazingly it was alright. No - better than alright. It actually tasted good, though, of course I no longer knew what was the pure lemon and which was the lemon and lime mix.

And the washing up! Poor David. The baking tray was covered with sticky solidified gooey stuff. So we soaked it immediately and he nobly said later that it actually hadn't been too hard. The next day before taking it to the party I tried to get them off the bases, but this was, of course impossible. Not a disaster, but annoying nevertheless - and more sticky stuff to wash off.

And nobody noticed that it was actually a failure. It was pronounced good and eaten with gusto, although I think my granddaughter's cheesecake was possibly more successful.

Not a very good photo I know but it's all I've got. I left the uneaten slice behind and we took a small portion back with us. We shall have it with my made up chicken, spinach and beans dinner tonight.

And I will try it again. If you read the recipe properly it's quite easy.


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