Ingredients

2 x 5cm thin shards of cassia or cinnamon
½ teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole star anise (around two stars)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
175g plain flour
50g icing sugar
235g cold butter, cubed (divided into 85g for the pastry and 150g for the filling)
9 free-range eggs (6 yolks and 3 whole eggs; I use size 7s)
2 cups caster sugar
225ml lemon juice (approx 6-8 medium Meyer lemons)
zest of 5 medium Meyer lemons
1 mandarin, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 small lemon, thinly sliced
½ blood orange, thinly sliced
300ml fresh cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar
200g mascarpone
In the cooler months when our citrus trees are heaving under the weight of fruit, this tart is my go-to dessert when we host guests. The creamy, yellow custard has a fresh flavour punch full of tangy citrus zest that tidies up what sometimes can be an overly sweet tart when encased in a plain sugary crust. So, I’ve packed some spicy autumn flavour into the sweet pastry here with my own five-spice blend using black peppercorns rather than the usual Sichuan which lessens the perfume flavour that I sometimes find a little overwhelming. I also used cassia bark for its more rugged earthy cinnamon spice notes.

Instructions

1.Heat a dry, heavy-bottomed, non-stick or well-seasoned frying pan until hot. Put the spices into the pan and move them around until they are fragrant and lightly toasted.
2.Remove from the heat and grind together to a fine powder in a coffee grinder or spice grinder. When cool, keep in an airtight container.
3.Lightly grease a 28cm fluted, loose-bottom tart tin.
4.For the pastry, pulse 2 teaspoons of five-spice mix, the flour, icing sugar and 85g of the butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
5.Add two of the egg yolks and pulse again until combined.
6.On a piece of baking paper roll out the pastry dough into a rough disc and lay into the tin. Using your fingers, press the mixture into the sides and base until it is evenly covered.
7.Chill the pastry case in the fridge while you prepare the lemon filling.
8.Put one cup of the caster sugar, the remaining 4 egg yolks and 3 whole eggs, lemon juice and zest in a medium saucepan over a low heat.
9.Gently whisk to break up the eggs and dissolve the sugar. Add 75g butter and continue to whisk as the eggs begin to gently cook, about 10-12 minutes.
10.Add the remaining butter and continue to whisk until the mixture becomes very thick. You must keep whisking throughout cooking to prevent your mixture curdling.
11.Remove from heat and set aside on a cold surface to cool.
12.Preheat the oven to 170℃ fanbake.
13.Line your chilled pastry case with paper, fill with baking beans or rice and bake blind for around 30 minutes or until golden on the edges.
14.Remove the tart case from oven and allow to cool.
15.Whisk the lemon filling until smooth and pour into the tart case.
16.Increase the oven heat to 230℃ and bake the filled tart for around 5-10 minutes to set the custard. It will become slightly freckled with brown spots when the filling is set with a slight wobble. Allow to cool.
17.Heat the remaining 1 cup of caster sugar with one cup of water in a deep-sided frying pan, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
18.Simmer for 5-7 minutes until the mixture becomes syrupy, then poach the citrus slices in batches for around 10 minutes, turning once.
19.Leave the blood orange until last so it doesn’t tint your other slices pink. Cool on a lined baking tray.
20.For the mascarpone cream, add the fresh cream and icing sugar to a large mixer bowl and whip on high speed until soft peaks form.
21.Add the mascarpone and whip until it reaches stiff peaks. Keep refrigerated.
22.Decorate the cake with the candied citrus slices and serve with the mascarpone cream.

Recipes, food styling & photography Fiona Hugues

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