From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
for the pastry:
100 g butter (chilled and diced, plus extra for greasing)
175 g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
pinch of salt
50 g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
0.5 tblsp double cream
for the filling:
finely grated zest and juice of 3 limes
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
175 g caster sugar
400 g tin of coconut milk
4 tblsp cornflour
4 egg yolks
50 g butter (softened)
for the meringue:
2 egg whites
100 g caster sugar
whipped cream, to serve
As this pastry is so short and crumbly, it may break up when you are trying to roll it out. If this happens, try coarsely grating it directly into the tin and then quickly press it up the sides and into the shape of the tin. No one will know the difference!
To make the pastry, place the butter, flour, salt and sugar into a food processor and blend for 20 seconds. Alternatively, you can rub together by hand. Add the egg yolk and cream and blend again or mix until the dough just comes together. Do not overwork the dough or the pastry will be tough. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 1 hour.
Grease a 20cm (8in) round, fluted, loose-bottomed flan tin, of 3cm (1 ¼ in) in depth. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and use it to line the prepared tin. Trim the edges and prick the base with a fork, then chill for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6). Line the pastry case with foil or non-stick baking paper and a thin layer of baking beans. Bake ‘blind’ for 15–20 minutes, then take the pastry case out of the oven and reduce the temperature to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
Carefully remove the beans and the foil or paper from the case, then return it to the oven for 3–5 minutes until lightly golden.
While the pastry is blind baking, make the filling. Place the lime zest and juice in a saucepan with the vanilla seeds, sugar and coconut milk, then heat gently until the sugar dissolves.
Mix the cornflour in a small bowl with 4 tablespoons of cold water, then stir it into the coconut mixture. Bring to the boil and cook for 2–3 minutes until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and then allow to cool slightly.
Finally, beat in the egg yolks and butter and return to the heat to cook gently for 6–8 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pour the filling into the pastry case and allow to cool completely.
Once the filling is cool, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). To make the meringue, place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk into soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the sugar a spoonful at a time to make a stiff, glossy meringue. Spoon the meringue on top of the filling, spreading it out evenly to make sure it forms a good seal with the pastry edge. Swirl the top of the meringue with the tip of a knife and bake the pie for 15 minutes or until it is lightly golden and crisp on top.
Allow the pie to cool slightly and then carefully remove the tart from the tin. Allow to cool completely before chilling for a few hours or overnight until completely set. To serve, cut into slices and arrange on plates with whipped cream.