The dessert version of these is easy, but the healthy lunchbox version is a little trickier. It is still easy enough, though, to be within the bounds of the Muesli Bar Challenge rule: easy enough for busy parents and even kids themselves to be bothered actually making, routinely, for daily school or work lunchboxes.
The recipe easily satisfies the other rules: within the Witches Kitchen definition of healthy and ethical, not too loaded up with sugar or fat, and robust enough to survive being bounced around in a school lunch box. It is based on lemons, which are so locally in season that even the wildlife can’t make a dent in them, and the eggs and ricotta add a good dose of protein.
The other criteria: they have to be rated by my school age reviewers as preferable to the overpackaged, overpriced junk food marketed as suitable for lunchboxes. Only a couple more weeks to go and this series will have been going for two full school terms. Let’s see if I can make it a clean sweep!
Making a “delicate” wholemeal pastry is most of the trickiness in this recipe. Making your own pastry means you can use organic wholemeal flour, real eggs and real butter rather than powdered egg and “hyrogenated vegetable oils” with their nasty trans fats. The key concept is keeping it all cool so the butter doesn’t melt until it is in the oven.
With the tartness of lemons, this one needs a slightly sweet pastry too.
In the food processor, put
- a good cup of wholemeal plain flour,
- 2 dessertspoons of butter
- 2 dessertspoons of brown sugar
- one egg
Blend for a minute until it resembles breadcrumbs. (Or you can just mix the flour and sugar, rub the butter in with your finger tips, then add the beaten egg). Add just enough cold water to make a soft dough. Add it carefully, spoonful at a time – it’s easy to make the dough too wet, then you have to add extra flour and you end up with a tough pastry.
Sprinkle flour on your benchtop and roll it out quite thin. I use a saucer to cut 10 cm circles and put each in a cup of a greased 12 cup muffin tray. Take the pastry right to the top of the muffin cups – you want as deep a well as you can get.
Prick the base with a fork and bake the shells in a moderate oven for 10 minutes till the pastry is starting to firm but not browning. Meanwhile make the filling.
- 140 ml lemon juice (Juice of 2 lemons)
- 4 dessertspoons (50 gm) raw sugar (not brown sugar this time – it makes the filling too dark)
- 80 grams ricotta
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- pinch salt
- 3 eggs
If you like a strong lemon flavour, you can also add 1 teaspoon lemon zest.
Pour the filling carefully into the pastry, filling the cups as full as you can without overflowing (or they will stick).
Bake for half an hour in a moderate oven till the filling is set. It will deflate and firm up a little more as it cools.