Lemons first began to be imported in small quantities in the thirteenth century, sometimes fresh, but more often they were made into a succade ? a kind of marmalade. Lemons and oranges became more popular and widespread in Britain during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and it was soon found that, when combined with butter, cream and sugar, both fruits produced particularly delicious tarts.
This tart is an early version of today's restaurant staple - caramelised lemon tart. Covering the hot cream filling with demerara sugar gives it a particularly good colour.
175 g (6 oz) rich sweet shortcrust pastry
300 ml (1/2 pint) thick double cream or creme fraiche
55 g (2 oz) butter, softened
55 g (2 oz) golden caster sugar
3 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
finely grated zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
6 amaretti biscuits, crushed
1 tablespoon demerara sugar (optional)
1. Line a shallow 23cm (9 in) tart tin with the pastry and pre-bake or bake blind. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.
2. Heat the cream in a pan until hot but not boiling. Remove the pan from the heat.
3. Meanwhile, beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until shiny, then add the eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest and juice and crushed biscuits and mix well.
4. Beat the lemon mixture into the hot cream until well mixed. Pour the mixture carefully into the pre-baked pastry case and sprinkle with demerara sugar if using.
5. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is firm when you gently shake the tart.
Serve hot or warm with a good ice cream.
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