This is another edible postcard of a recipe, direct from my mother’s back garden in Berry, on the south coast of NSW. It’s essentially sunlight on a plate.

Will and I went for a quick jaunt and some R&R  last week. We went to check in on the horses; Stormy and Pancake. While we were in residence the equine dentist came to visit. Unbeknownst to all of us, Stormy had been suffering with an ulcer on his right cheek. Will was sure to watch on while he ate afterwards, to make sure that he was ok.

We went to amble down country lanes and drink coffee at Il Locale and buy some lamingtons from Berry Sourdough.

Will and I spent our mornings trundling through her vast backyard and and playing hide and seek in the rhubarb patch. In the afternoons I stole some time to read a few chapters of a book on the porch while my mum helped teach Will how to go down stairs backwards (we think, finally, he’s got it- his previous mode has been to shamelessly launch himself down face forward, no matter how many times he tumbled and scraped his head).

The sky was clear and spring has most definitely sprung. Will is finally better again, after weeks of a tedious merry go round of coughs and colds and sneezes and whinges.  It’s something worth celebrating.

You can always count on my mother to have a cake lurking somewhere in her kitchen. Her brief is crystal clear. It has to be simple (preferably melt and mix, or mash and mix) and host some of the produce from her garden. If you have to pull out the electric beaters, wash three bowls and separate eggs- it’s not going to be a recipe that makes it onto high rotation. Her rationale is that there are better things to do than skulk around in a kitchen all day.

And while I don’t completely ascribe to that philosophy- I’m coming around more and more to the merits of the minimal effort/high reward dessert. Particularly when the window of time you have to throw it together is at 4 pm and you’ve got an 11 kg frustrated log of cheek and chub attached to your hip.

This time there I found a wedge of  luminous lemon tart in the fridge. There was no pastry, rather it held itself together with a little flour and the binding properties of desiccated coconut. It answers all the aspects of her brief perfectly-it calls for a cup of lemon juice (dispatching at least four lemons from the heavy limbed trees) and involves nothing more than greasing a pie dish, melting some butter and whisking the remaining ingredients together.

After two forkfuls I put my plate down and demanded to know where the recipe had come from. This was new material. Mum then skuttled over to the cupboard and pulled out a ripped page of the gardening column in Australia’s South Coast Style magazine. The below takes Mim Burkett’s recipe as a jumping off point.  I’ve tweaked and twiddled it so it works for me (and hopefully you). I’ve swapped the plain flour with coconut flour; making it gluten and grain free. Beyond this, the coconut flour also helps to amplify the flavours.  I’ve also cut the proportion of sugar down by half.  I prefer a lemon tart that totters somewhere on the edge, with just enough sweetness to soften the abrasive twang of the citrus, but not so much that it makes your teeth slightly tacky. Using thickened cream (35 % fat) also helps the top to form lovely caramelised patches in the oven, though regular pouring cream will also work fine.

This is the perfect bash together dessert for rustic gatherings, after a main of roast chicken with braised peas and gem lettuce and or slow cooked lamb and fennel. It’s also a sublime salve for those shitty days, when your one outing is to to the supermarket and you’ll happily wait in line for the human cashier because you’re that desperate for a sliver of adult conversation.  But mainly it’s best to serve to a small party of  people you love.  Pair it with a dollop of creme fraiche, yoghurt or ice cream. If you want to gild the lily further then ripe strawberries or a cascade of passionfruit pulp would be lovely.

Now we’re home again. My garden isn’t nearly as developed as my mother’s. The citrus in the front yard are fledgling and there are some vengeful slugs making a meal out of my greens. It turns out my thumbs are more pink than green.  So in this latest instance of the tart I made do with some of her lemons that  brought back with me (I had an expert helper to help harvest)- and added an 80’s flashback sprig of mint for a garnish, courtesy of a rogue patch by the fence in my backyard.

It seems that after a spell away both the mint and the boy are flourishing. And hopefully the sunshine is here to stay.

 Flourless Lemon Coconut Tart

Serves 8-10

This tart benefits from 3-4 hours in the fridge before serving, to allow the centre to set to a soft wibble. It’s just as good, if not better, the next day.  Nb, the first slice may suffer a little in appearance as you try to take it out of the dish. If that worries you, put that one to the side as a cook’s perk.

A useful trick to keep in mind is that warm citrus will give off a lot more juice. I tend to give mine 15 seconds in the microwave before I juice them.

4 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp coconut flour, or 1/2 cup of plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar, or unrefined raw sugar
1 cup/110 g desiccated coconut
125 g of melted butter, cooled to room temperature
1 cup/250 ml thickened cream ( or any cream with 35 % fat)
1 cup/250 ml lemon juice (approx juice of 4-5 lemons)
Zest of 1 lemon

Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

2) Grease a 25 cm ceramic pie dish.

3) Whisk together the eggs and sifted coconut flour/plain flour.

4) Add the remaining ingredients and whisk well to combine.

5) Pour mix into the greased dish and transfer to the oven.

6) Bake for 45 minutes, until the top is burnished, the edges firm and there is just a slight wobble in the centre. It will set more as it cools in the fridge. Transfer to the fridge and chill for 3-4 hours, until it is firm to touch in the centre. Slice and serve with ice cream, creme fraiche or yoghurt. An 80’s style sprig of mint wouldn’t go astray.