Shit happens. It’s a fact of life and something I learned to accept fairly early on in my childhood when my older sister pushed me off my black plastic motorbike, jumped on it and rode away. It was a hit and run that left me with a heavy heart and mouth full of sand. I won’t lie, I was gutted to say the least. But after the shock of the hijacking and about half an hour of Oscar-worthy sobbing, I picked myself up and vowed revenge.
What followed was a last laugh for me, when my sister fell through the pool net that she was teaching me to bounce on like a trampoline. She was left with only her head emerging from the mesh and a father who was a minus 5 on the “Proud Daddy Scale.” The moral of the story, karma is real people. I repeat, karma is real. Shout out to my sister, K-A, who celebrates her 26th birthday today! She also gets married on Saturday. Happy birthday you hooligan! Thanks for being a great role model for me back then when we were growing up and even now. You’re the reason why I never cut a full fringe (ha) and the reason why I never mix my drinks (double ha). But in all seriousness, you taught me how to read and write at the age of 4. You were and still are my hero. So in all probability, I owe my fantastic hair, wise drinking techniques and perhaps even this blog to you. I can still see us playing in the garden either with our Sky Dancers, or pretending to be… wait for it… Power Rangers (insert cringe face here). You always had to be the pink one, and I was always (regretfully) the yellow one. She was Asian, and when I consider my fondness for pandas, pad thai and Asian babies, in retrospect, this explains a lot. I could not be happier for you, and I cannot wait to see you become a “Van Der Merwe” this weekend!
Everyone’s well aware of the old cliché, “when life gives you lemons…” I’m not afraid to admit that I myself have had my fair share of, “I deserved that’s” and am well aware of the average serving size of a slice of humble pie… That being said, what exactly constitutes a lemon and what does one do when life gives us them? Is it the bad haircut right before a special occasion that leaves you looking like Ringo Starr from the Beatles? Or is it the petrol light that blinks at you at least 60 kilometers away from the nearest petrol station when your reserve tank is only good for 57? The list is endless and there are far worse examples but I’m pretty sure you get the picture…
Sometimes lemons are people, sent to test us, piss us off and strengthen our characters (sometimes even our right hook). Or they’re happenings that challenge us to change the way we think and perhaps even the way we are. Either way, when you feel like Murphy and his law are mercilessly out to get you like Freddie Kruger in, “Friday the 13th” it pays remember one thing, they’re only lemons.
They may seem particularly bitter at times, and I get that, but spare a thought for the okes who are juggling grapefruits on a daily basis. And best believe, they would love nothing more than to have your lemons. But in the same breath, it must be said that it’s all about perspective. How big are you making these lemons out to be? Half the time, if you look closely they’re only limes. Stop giving them so much credit. I know it’s easier said than it is done, but believing that things could always be worse (and trust me, they could very well be) is a quick way to shrink or even sweeten up your lemons. I’m taking a page out of Ron Burgundy’s book here… “I’m gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it. If you don’t, send it right back.” Just a thought.
The truth is, we have to learn to pick our battles. We can’t get all Gerard Butler in “300” over things that only call for the brief lawn tussle between Brennan and Dale in “Step Brothers.” This is NOT Sparta, it’s just a bad day, and guess what, everybody has them. In fact, we could all learn a lesson from “Step Brothers,” be open to learning from your lemons, and you may even make a few friends along the way. (However, Baking & Bitching will not be held responsible for any injuries sustained by the use of bunk beds or power tools).
So with that said, following a few interesting encounters over the last week, I have decided that there’s very little room in my fruit basket for lemons… The ones that found themselves there this morning were evicted for the purpose of baking something for this post. And the ones that find themselves there in the future, will be treated as kumquats.
Okay, that’s my preach for the day. Now to the baking for goodness sake. Good tarts are hard to find. Some lead you on promising to be something they’re not whilst others simply aren’t as memorable the second time around. Ha. Today I found myself wanting to make something that paid tribute to all of life’s lemons. I settled on a crunchy shortcrust pastry base with a zesty lemon filling that is complemented by fresh blueberries. This tart gets caramelized at the end with a bit of castor sugar and a blowtorch. You don’t have to do this, but it will make you feel fancier than Iggy Azalea and more dangerous than Beyoncé in her “Bonnie and Clyde” video. It’s also somewhat therapeutic as well because you almost feel like you’re setting fire to the eyebrows of your adversaries.
So this one’s for those who find the grace to rise above their lemons. In particular, my mom, Carmen, Maris, Ten, and Nonto. I learn something new from at least one of you each and every single day. 9 times out of 10, it’s these lessons that keep me from being served another slice of humble pie. And for that, I thank you.
This one is also for the lemons. The ones we loathe, lament and force ourselves to live with. This post is proof that it possible to make something sweet from the very thing that threatens to make us bitter. And so I say, when life gives you lemons, juice the little bastards and make this Ballsy Blueberry Lemon Tart.
Yours in Baking & Bitching, (Because “xoxo” was too mainstream and because this blog is how I deal with my excess lemons, literally and figuratively)
Ballsy Blueberry Lemon Tart
For the pastry:
2 tablespoons of castor sugar
1 ½ cups of cake flour
113g of salted butter (cold and cut into cubes)
1 large egg separated (DON’T throw away the egg white)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of cold water from the fridge
A pinch of salt
For the filling:
240g of fresh blueberries (you could also use raspberries)
4 large eggs
1 cup of fresh lemon juice
¼ cup of heavy cream
The zest of one lemon
A pinch of salt
Whipped cream for serving
For the pastry shell:
- In a food processor, pulse the salt, sugar and flour together. Add the butter and pulse until it takes on a crumbly consistency.
- Add the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of water (keeping the egg white and one teaspoon of ice water aside for later).
- Pulse until the dough pulls together.
- Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll out on a floured surface, roll up onto rolling pin and set into a 20cm removable-bottomed tart tin. Use the excess pastry to reinforce the crust.
- Cover the tart tin in cling wrap and refrigerate again for another 30 minutes.
- Remove from the fridge and prick with a fork, cover with a piece of baking paper and weight down with baking beans.
- Bake in an oven preheated at 180 degrees centigrade for 25 minutes.
- When removed from the oven, mix together the egg white and one teaspoon of water. Brush with the mixture and leave to cool completely.
For the filling:
- Place the eggs, cream, lemon juice, lemon zest and castor sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine.
- Place the blueberries in the cooled tart shell and pour lemon mixture on top to fill the shell.
- Bake at 180 degrees for 25 minutes. (The filling should have a very slight jiggle still).
- Leave to cool completely.
- To brulee the top, sprinkle three teaspoons of castor sugar on top of the tart and blow torch until caramelized, taking care not to burn the sugar.
- Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
Health Hack: Back off on the caramelized topping, use only ½ a cup of castor sugar in the lemon curd and don’t serve it with cream. Boom!