Hold on to your toques, this is a Blumenthal gadget-fest. Here’s a run-down of the Heston kitchen toys employed in this recipe:
That’s a hell of a list. The odd one out in this list is the Kitchen Wizz Pro, a beast of a food processor, but more on that in a future post. I’ve also used my trusty chef’s knife, easily the best knife I’ve ever used. Most of them are Salter’s / HoMedics to celebrate the launch of their new range of Heston gadgets. It’s fair to say they’re a mixed bag.
The initial range of Heston By Salter tools are all solid: the probe thermometer, kitchen timer, fridge thermometer, oven thermometer, measuring jug, scales; all good. Some of the newer items feel superfluous. First up the adjustable rolling pin. It comes with discs that adjust the height of the pin from the surface. Genius! I was looking forward to this. As someone who is mostly terrible at pastry the ability to roll out to a consistent thickness really appealed to me. Unfortunately the pastry stuck immediately to the pin and made a complete mess. After prodding it for a while I transferred it to the pastry dish for baking and rolled it up loosely around the pin. Again it all stuck to the pin and essentially turned my smooth-plasticine dough to a patchwork quilt. Just look at the pastry in the picture, that’s supposed to be 3mm but it’s more like a centimetre! Very disappointing.
The whisk is much better, being well-balanced, sturdy and comfortable to hold when whisking an egg custard over a bain marie. The measuring spoons are a cute gimmick, in that you slide the compartment to the right measurement (e.g. 1 teaspoon, ½ tablespoon) and then drag a little lid over the powder to level it off. But a couple of things bothered me: my fingers were a little greasy from handling butter and I just couldn’t work it without putting everything down, washing hands and re-measuring. And I can’t get past the price: £17.99 RRP for two spoons when the same thing is achieved with a £1 (or less) set of plastic measuring spoons available anywhere, with the help of any knife for levelling.
Rounding out the collection are the spatulas which are quickly becoming two of my favourite things in the kitchen: with one curved end for sculpting and smoothing, and a firmer end for flipping and scraping. I use a lot of non-stick bakeware, frying pans and saucepans so having something to poke at the edges of something to flip it over is really handy. Again though I have to wince at the price: £17.99 for two spatulas isn’t great value.
All the equipment in the range is well made and thoughtfully designed, but these items are just not as “must have” as the original kitchen gadgets. They’d make great gifts though.
I used all these tools and more in making Heston’s lemon tart. There’s an awful lot of Heston in this; he spent years at the Fat Duck perfecting the ‘wobble’ in his cakes. It comes down to temperature – a tart at 70°C is perfectly set. And of course, he’s right. It’s a brilliant dessert, and the probe thermometer is the most essential gadget of them all. Just one niggle: serving with creme fraiche is a complete waste of time. Totally gets lost against the lemon flavour – don’t bother.
Heston Blumenthal’s lemon tart (serves 10 – 12):
For the pastry:
120g icing sugar
3 large egg yolks
300g plain flour
150g unsalted butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
Zest of ½ a lemon, grated
For the filling:
9 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
Finely grated zest and juice of 5 lemons
300g double cream
390g caster sugar
80g caster sugar
- Start with the pastry: blitz the icing sugar and yolks together and set aside. In a mixer mix the flour, butter and salt until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the vanilla, lemon and yolk mixture and continue to mix until you have a smooth, soft dough. Mould into a rectangle and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. After resting, roll the pastry to 3mm (ha ha) and line it in your 20cm tart tin. Prick with a fork all over and freeze for 30 minutes. Blind bake the base for 40 minutes and trim off the excess pastry. Drop the oven to 120°C.
- Place the eggs and egg yolks in a bain marie and whisk together until it reaches 62°C (mine took about 10 minutes). At this point strain through a sieve, remove the bubbles from the surface with a metal spoon and pour into the pastry case. Bake until the filling reaches 70°C. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle over the caster sugar and caramelise with a blow torch. Serve with creme fraiche if you like.