Lemon Tart, Meringue, Mock Boysenberry Coulis, Berries

  • Time: 3 hours plus resting and cooking time
  • Serves: 8
  • Level: medium

Mr WDC
This was devised as the dessert for our California Dreamin' 2, Supper Club.

What you need

For the pastry

210g plain flour

130g chilled unsalted butter cubed

2 tbs icing sugar

3-4tbs iced water

Pinch salt

1 egg yolk (optional)

For the pie filling

3 whole large eggs

3 large egg yolks

125g – 150g caster sugar

Zest and juice from 2 lemons

150ml double cream

For the meringues

3 egg whites

150g caster sugar

Few drops lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla

For the coulis

400g raspberries

200g blackberries

200g seedless bramble jelly

2 tbs caster sugar

To serve

Fresh blackberries

 



Dad's Recipe Tales

The life of a pie…

Part one – lemon chiffon pie

This tart was devised as the dessert for our California Dreamin’ 2, Supper Club. But it took a very circuitous route to get to where it is…

It started life as a lemon chiffon pie, which appropriately for a Californian-themed dinner, was invented in the state in 1926 by Monroe Boston Strause, the ‘Pie King’ of Los Angeles. But a lemon chiffon pie does not travel well and the logistics of a supper club, dictate that the dessert is ideally made it in advance of the day. Then it struck me that I don’t actually like chiffon pie. I like a well-made mouse, I like a non-cooked cheesecake set with gelatine, but there is something very artificial about the thick slab of chiffon, no doubt based on early memories of commercial varieties made with cream substitutes – the kind of pie that would be packaged in a cardboard box and feature in the frozen dessert cabinets of the supermarket. So no, not chiffon.

Part two – lemon meringue pie

The next idea was a simple shift from chiffon to meringue: a lemon meringue pie. This is also very American (along with its close relative the key lime pie) and I was tempted to put the pie in, if only to acknowledge the often quoted line enjoyed by our family from A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson; where Bill develops a craving for lemon pie on the Appalachian Trail and while seeking sustenance in a diner, asks his waitress ‘…for the biggest slice you can give me without losing your job!’ Despite Bill’s endorsement, lemon meringue pie is made in a very deep dish and piled high with mounds of meringue. At the end of a four or six course meal, this will be too much, no matter how delicious the pie. It also cannot be made in advance as the meringue needs to be baked onto the pie. So no, not lemon meringue pie.

Part three – lemon tart

Sticking with a lemon pie theme, there’s really only one option left: lemon tart. In its finest French interpretation, a slim sliver of lemon lusciousness and perfect for the end of the meal. It can be made in advance; and as an homage to lost meringues, I could add a little cheffy mini-meringue.  But, as good as a tart is; it’s just an anonymous tart. It needs another Californian element to be part of a Californian Dream.

Easy. Add Californian berries – Boysenberries…

Part four – the Boysenberries of California

The Boysenberry flavour was my ‘go-to’ syrup whenever we went out for pancakes with the family. We would also buy jars of Boysenberry jelly from one of our family’s favourite haunts, Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Orange County. Its founder, Walter Knott was a farmer and known for his knowledge of berries. In the 1920s, he received a few vines of a certain Mr Boysen, a Northern Californian, who had sold his farm, but not before experimenting with a new hybrid berry, a cross between the raspberry, blackberry, dewberry and loganberry.

Walter Knott brought the vines back to his farm and grew them. The result was a long black berry which made excellent syrups, jams, jellies and pies. Walter grew these berries on his farm and named then Boysenberries*. The berry was a great success and popular ingredient in his wife’s preserves and pies. But unfortunately the berry does not possess the resilience and robustness for viable commercial production and eventually the berry fields declined, giving way to other business interests: namely a chicken dinner restaurant and and an entertainment area based loosely on a reconstruction of ‘Calico’ an Old West ghost town of California.

Today Knott’s Berry Farm has grown into a thriving theme park with roller coasters, rides and staged events. The original berry farm is a distant sentimental memory, but is still kept alive in select jars of ‘Knott’s’ Boysenberry jam, available to buy in the park’s souvenir shops. The final ironic twist for the Knott’s is their Boysenberries are probably sourced in New Zealand, where most of the world’s Boysenberries are now grown.

Part five – Dreamin’ of California and pie…

So the finished dessert is lemon tart, with a meringue, ‘mock’ Boysenberry coulis and berries. My coulis was devised to mimic a Boysenberry taste, whilst my berries are blackberries. I suspect much will be lost in translation, but to me, it feels a fitting end to my Californian Dream.

*Out of respect for poor Mr Boysen, who dreamed up the concept of this amazing hybrid berry, I have capitalized ‘Boysen’ in the name of the berry.

How Dad Cooked It

It is possible to buy and grow Boysenberries in the UK. James Wong describes in his Guardian article, how the very properties that make them commercially non-viable, make them excellent for the garden, . He also describes how the taste is a cross between Raspberry jam and Bramble jelly. This gives me enough help to ‘mock’ up my Boysenberry jelly!

Make the pastry

  1. Sieve the flour and sugar into a large cool bowl. Add the salt and the butter. Using two knives, start to break-up the butter and combine with the flour. Continue mixing, but switch to using your finger tips, rubbing until the flour resembles breadcrumbs. Add 3 tablespoons of water and combine, if it seems too dry add another tablespoon of water. Bring together in a ball and wrap in cling film and keep in the fridge for 1 hour. Remove 10 minutes before using.
  2. On a floured surface press the dough down into a thick round disc. Turn and mold with finger tips. Using a rolling action starting from the centre, roll out to the edge. Continue, turning and flouring the pastry as necessary until a disc is formed whose circumference is 5cm larger than the tart tray and about 3mm thick.
  3. Lift the pastry and position into the tarttray. Push the edges down and into the edges of the dish, cut off the excess and use pad the pastry into the sides of the tart tray. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork. Put back into the fridge to rest for half an hour.

Bake the pastry shell

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C Gas 3.
  2. Bake blind, using baking beans over tin foil or baking parchment, for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and and foil or paper and continue to cook for 15 minutes. Beat the egg yolk (if using) and brush on the base of the pastry. Return to the oven and bake for 1 or 2 minutes until the egg has dried. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes. Turn the oven down to 140C Gas 1.

Make the filling and bake the tart

  1. Depending on sweetness desired for the tart mix 125g or 150g of sugar with the eggs, egg yolks, lemon, zest and cream. Heat very carefully and gently until about 40C (just above blood temperature).
  2. Add the filling to the tart case and cook for 30 minutes. It can still be wobbly when finished. Turn off the oven and leave the door ajar. Leave the tart in the oven for an hour and then remove and cool completely. Put in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Make the meringues

  1. Put the sugar in a glass jug and heat in the microwave until about 60C. Gently heat the egg whites in a clean pan until about 45C.
  2. Using a very clean bowl, add a few drops of lemon and the egg whites. Beat with an electric mixer until the soft peak stage. Slowly add the sugar a little at a time beating until thick and smooth. Add the vanilla with the final stage of sugar. Beat for a minute until glossy and stiff.
  3. Pipe or spoon onto greaseproof paper or a silicon mat. Put into a very low oven 120C Gas 1/4. Bake for 1 to 2 hours making sure they do not turn brown. If they do open the door to lower temperature. Leave in the oven for a couple of hours with the heat off to dry out and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Make the coulis

  1. Wash and drain the fruit. Put into a bowl and sprinkle the sugar over. Leave to macerate for an hour or two. Heat gently in a pan until the fruit is soft. Mash to a pulp and pass through a sieve.
  2. Return the coulis to a clean pan and heat gently, add the bramble jelly until the coulis tastes of both raspberries and blackberries with out one or the other dominating.

Serve

  1. Cut slices of the tart, add a meringue and drizzle over coulis. Add fresh blackberries.
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