For Benjamina Ebuehi, dessert is the best part of a meal. And her latest cookbook, I’ll Bring Dessert, is a celebration of that sweet end point; it’s packed with 70 recipes for classic puddings, cakes and biscuits, as well as fresh new creations to help you break out of a dessert-cooking rut. The Guardian columnist, food writer and former Great British Bake Off contestant has compiled a brace of recipes such as cherry slab pie, thyme-roasted grapes with ricotta, and white chocolate and rosewater mud cake that’ll slot into any dinner-party menu. This lemon tart is in the same mould – a fresh take on a familiar classic.

“A lemon tart is a beautifully delicate dessert,” she writes. “It’s not too in-your-face but can certainly hold its own. A good lemon tart should have a well-pronounced lemon flavour but it shouldn’t be so tart that it makes you wince (as did my first few attempts of this tart). The silky, buttery filling is zingy and fresh and would be perfect for a springtime evening dessert. A lightly infused basil cream brings some fragrance and playfulness that keeps people going back in for a second or third slice. For a bit of extra frill, I like to blitz some leftover basil leaves in a food processor with caster sugar, and sprinkle it on top.”

Make the lemon filling up to two days ahead and store in an airtight container in the fridge. If you’re really pressed for time, you can use a pre-made pastry shell.

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Benjamina Ebeuhi’s lemon tart with basil cream

Serves 12
Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus 10 hours chilling and 30 minutes infusing
Cooking time: 35 minutes

Ingredients
Filling
Grated zest of 3 lemons and 175ml lemon juice
220g caster sugar
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
250g unsalted butter, very soft

Basil cream
200g double cream
1/2 tbsp icing sugar
6 basil leaves

Pastry
200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
110g cold unsalted butter, diced
40g icing sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 egg yolks

Method
The filling will need plenty of time to chill, so make this first. Add the lemon zest and juice, the sugar, whole eggs and extra yolks to a heatproof bowl and give it a quick mix to combine. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook, stirring until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. This can take up to 10–12 minutes, so be patient. If you’re using a cooking thermometer, it will be done at about 77°C.

Let cool for 15 minutes before pouring it through a sieve and into a blender. With the blender running, add chunks of the softened butter a little at a time, letting it incorporate before adding more.

Once all the butter has been added, pour the mixture into a bowl or container and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface. Chill in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight until it’s well chilled and thickened.

To make the basil whip, add the cream, icing sugar and basil to a pan and heat gently until hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat, cover and let the basil infuse for at least 30 minutes. Remove the basil leaves and put the cream in the fridge until well chilled.

To make the pastry, add the flour, butter, icing sugar and salt to a food processor. Blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add in the yolks and pulse again until the mixture starts to clump together. Add a tbsp of water if it still looks really dry.

Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and use your hands to bring it together. Pat it into a thick disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2–3 hours or until firm.

Once chilled, roll out the pastry about 3–4mm thick. Roll it into a 23cm tart pan, making sure the pastry is pressed into all the crevices and there’s a little overhang of pastry. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan).

Use a fork to dock the base of the pastry and then line it with a sheet of baking paper. Fill with baking beans or uncooked rice and bake for 15–18 minutes until the edges have started to brown. Carefully remove the baking paper and beans and put the tart back in the oven for 10–12 minutes until the base looks dry and lightly browned.

Let it cool for a few minutes before using a sharp knife to trim off the excess pastry.

Fill the tart shell with the lemon filling mixture, smoothing the top with a palette knife. Place it back in the fridge for 30–60 minutes to set again.

To serve, lightly whip the chilled basil cream to get soft peaks, and dollop on the tart. Top with basil sugar (see introduction), if using.

This is an edited extract from I’ll Bring Dessert by Benjamina Ebuehi, published by Quadrille. Available in stores nationally from 11 April 2024. Photography by Laura Edwards.