It’s been a confusing week. But today’s recipe is a gem. Using the spelt sweet shortcrust pastry (pâte sucrée) which I posted previously, filled with a beautiful, lusciously thick lemon curd, it makes a beautiful spelt tarte au citron with crisp, sharp flavours and that soft, crumbly, sweet spelt crust. It’s a beauty of a patisserie recipe perfect for afternoon tea or a post-prandial dessert.
The Human Experience
I’ve experienced the full breadth of human emotion from happiness to sadness, fear to anger. Monday began with buoyancy, entering a week full of possibilities. Freelance work to arrange, personal photoshoot to organise, job application to complete, review and submit, exhibition display to create, personal artwork project to finish, blog posts to write on top of having made evening arrangements every night from Monday to Saturday. Sunday night is my only night at home this week.
The gentle challenge of self-expression has cosseted me sporadically and at other times I’ve felt that looking at anything more than a twitter feed is acutely harrowing. I got angry at a friend, yet I didn’t tell him, for fear of misconveying my anger, which simply made me feel even worse about myself.
Yet, by grabbing life’s opportunities as they appear, I’ve visited the opera twice this week to see performances of Die Zauberflöte, which have made my soul shine with pure unadulterated happiness, joy and love. This morning I’ve struggled to write these few words as the anxious knot in my stomach is fearing anything but safety of the known.
“You can’t fall if you don’t climb… but there’s no joy living life on the ground.”Someone with unrealistic expectations.
This motivational quote was surely written with good intent, to inspire me to chase my dreams and goals. However, it’s dangerous and untrue, unrealistically telling me to attempt the impossible. Mountain climbers don’t spend their entire lives climbing. They train, sleep, eat, rest and socialise, then on some days, they climb. Very occasionally, they reach the summit. Most of their lives are spent on the ground, or looking at the climb ahead. They might even rest, whilst climbing.
Joy can be found on the ground if it’s the time in between climbs. These are vital moments of softness, stillness and peace. If I try and climb every waking hour, I’ll get tired and fall.
Which is how my week feels, I forgot to spend time on the ground. There has been abundant joy, I’ve laughed and smiled and felt the warmth of human expression. But I’ve been trying to climb all day, every day, from 6am until midnight. I’ve started missing footholds and on some days, I simply haven’t had the emotional energy to attack the next face. But that’s OK, because I’ve admitted it by writing this. I’m not superman, I’m human and just like the world’s best mountaineers, I can’t spend my entire life climbing.
Spelt Tarte au Citron
By Gavin Wren
Uses a 7″ loose bottom flan tin, rolling pin, bowl scraper, baking paper and baking beads.
For the spelt shortcrust pastry:
125g white spelt flour, plus extra for dusting.
25g golden caster sugar
1 medium egg, beaten
You can also make this recipe using readymade shortcrust pastry.
For the lemon curd filling:
2 unwaxed lemons zest
70ml lemon juice (approx 2 lemons)
130g golden caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
175g unsalted butter
Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl.
Cut the butter into small cubes and rub it into the flour using your fingertips. The flour will slowly turn into a rough powder. Pour the beaten egg into the bowl and mix, it will all become extremely sticky now!
Turn the pastry out onto a floured surface and dust it with flour. Knead for about a minute, dusting more if it’s too sticky, until you have a smooth pastry.
Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour, preferably about 3, until it’s a firm ball of pastry.
Place on floured surface and roll out to a circle about 5-7mm thick. It will crack and split, but just bring the cracks back together and it will become easier as you work it.
Lay it over a 7” flan tin and gently push into the corners. If you have sharp nails, use a small blob of pastry wrapped in cling film. Fold the pastry over the top edges of the tin, then pass the rolling pin across the top of the tin to cut the edges off.
Return to the fridge for 30-60 mins and pre-heat your oven to gas mark 4, 350ºF, 177ºC, 157ºC fan. For more info about oven temperatures, read my free guide, here.
Meanwhile, make the lemon curd filling. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a cold heavy bottom pam. Add the zest, juice and butter and whisk over a medium heat until it thickens to custard-like consistency, then remove from the heat to cool.
Scrunch up a piece of baking paper which is large enough to go up the sides of the tin and place inside the pastry case, then fill with baking beans.
Cook for 15 minutes, then remove the beans and cook for further 10 minutes. Leave the tin on a cooling rack to cool.
Once both curd and case are cool, pour the curd into the case until it’s full, giving it a wiggle to ensure there are no bubbles. Carefully transfer to the fridge to cool for a couple of hours, when the curd will set.