Sunday, 9 June 2013

When life gives you lemons, make lemon tart (and chocolate cake!)

“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day…” (Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre)

I meant to take a walk today, really I did. I was feeling restless and had a lot of energy to expend plus some rather luridly-purple new running shoes that I wanted to break in. Down, however, came the rain – during the night, into the morning, spoiling my aerobic plans.

Rainy days have a tendency to become baking days. If you have to stay in, you may as well play in the kitchen. As it was, this Sunday, national radio station Triple J were playing their “Hottest 100 songs of the last 20 years” so I had a soundtrack and the chance of some exercise, should I be moved to dance. (Which I was, as it happens, but, luckily for you, gentle reader, there are no photographs of this…)

I waited for a break in the weather and dashed to the supermarket for the necessary butter, eggs, flour, chocolate, sugar. I did get soaked harvesting the lemons from the lemon tree though.

The lemon tree has been very obliging of late and the three lemons that I took did little to thin out the fruit that remained.

My plans were to make two desserts.

First up, a lemon tart because I needed to use up some lemons.

Second, something chocolate-y.  My friend. Duncan, has recently celebrated a significant birthday, and, as he is flying back to Perth (normally he lives in Sydney) this week, I wanted to find the best chocolate offering for his west coast celebrations. I came upon a recipe for the Ottolenghi chocolate fudge cake and thought I’d test it out today (because I don’t want any more cake fails…)

I started with the chocolate cake which is very easy to do.


240g butter, cut into small cubes

265g 52% dark chocolate, chopped (I could only find 55% buttons, but they worked fine)

95g 70% dark chocolate, chopped (Lindt 70% is fine)

290g light muscovado sugar

4 tbsp water

5 eggs, separated

1 tssp salt

Put the butter and chocolate in a mixing bowl. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour the hot sugar syrup over the chocolate and butter to dissolve it.

Add the egg yolks in, one at a time, until combined. Leave to cool to room temperature.

Whisk the egg whites with the salt to a firm (but not dry) meringue.

Fold 1/3 of the meringue into the chocolate mixture. Go slowly! (You want to keep those airbubbles.) Once it is all combined, add the next 1/3. Repeat with the last 1/3.

Into a greased and lined 20cm springform tin, pour 2/3 of the cake mix.

Bake in a 170C oven for 40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Then spread the final 1/3 of chocolate mix over the top. Put the cake back into the oven and let it cook for another 20 – 25 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before releasing from the pan.
Dust all over with good cocoa power (I used Valrhona) before you serve it up.


For the lemon tart…


1 batch of pasta frolla pastry (recipe here)

4 eggs

4 small lemons (juice and zest)

125g castor sugar

125g melted butter

125 ground almonds

100 flaked almonds
creme fraiche to serve

Use the pasta frolla to line a greased 28 cm tart tin. Bake blind for 15 minutes at 170C. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Combine the eggs, lemon juice and zest, sugar, and melted butter and whisk until completely blended.

Spread a layer of ground almonds over the tart shell. Pour over the lemon mixture. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top. 

Bake in a 180C oven for about 30 minutes, until flaked almonds are brown and a skewer comes out cleanly.

It was a great day's baking. And eventually, I did get my walk. The rain came down hard about 5 minutes after I set out, even my umbrella was little use in such a torrent. I was soaked though.

Coming home to a hot bath and  two type of cake was a good way to finish off a rainy day though. 

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