Lemon meringue pie

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My Dad has been staying with us over the last few days to help me with something at school (thank goodness he has technological know-how as I have absolutely none!) I wanted to make something for dessert on Sunday and as Aldi had lemons for 59p it had to be something lemon based. Mr Birdie is partial to lemon meringue pie so I decided to give it a go. I was informed by Mr Birdie that it would not be as good as his Mum’s (I have a lot to live up to!) and indeed he did declare that this was the case (he has however polished off three slices so I don’t think it can be that bad). I’m not overly experienced in making pastry so it was a good opportunity to give it another go.

This is a fairly simple easy recipe to make. It’s a BBC Good Food recipe that you can find here. Don’t be put off by some of the negative reviews! As the pastry is quite rich it is easy to patch together should you have issues when lining the tin. The pastry does require chilling for at least 30 minutes and it needs to sit in the tin after cooking so you will need to remember this if you’re making it for a particular time. You will need a 23 x 2.5cm loose-bottomed fluted flan tin.

Ingredients:
For the pastry
175g plain flour
100g cold butter (cut into small pieces)
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1 egg yolk

For the filling
2 level tablespoons cornflour
100g golden caster sugar
Finely grated zest 2 large lemon
125ml fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
Juice 1 small orange
85g butter (cut into pieces)
3 egg yolks and a 1 whole egg

For the meringue
4 egg whites (room temperature)
200g golden caster sugar
2 level teaspoons cornflour

Method:
1. For the pastry, put the flour, butter, icing sugar, egg yolk (save the white for the meringue) and 1 tablespoon of cold water into a food processor. Using the pulse button, process until the mix starts to bind (take care not to overwork it).

2. Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface, gather together until smooth, then roll out and line a 23 x 2.5cm loose-bottom fluted flan tin. Trim and neaten the edges. Press the pastry into the flutes of the tin. The pastry is quite rich, so don’t worry if it cracks, just press it back together. Prick the base with a fork, line with foil, shiny side down, and chill for 1⁄2-1 hour (or overnight).

3. Put a baking sheet in the oven and heat oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6. Bake the pastry case ‘blind’ (filled with dry beans) for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 5-8 minutes until the pastry is pale golden and cooked. Set aside (This can be done a day ahead if you want to get ahead.) Lower the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/Gas 4.
4. While the pastry bakes, prepare the filling: mix the cornflour, sugar and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Strain and stir in the lemon juice gradually. Make orange juice up to 200ml with water and strain into the pan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth (you do need to patient here. You may think it’s not doing anything but have faith – it will eventually thicken). Once the mixture bubbles, remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted. Beat the egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue) and whole egg together, stir into the pan and return to a medium heat. Keep stirring vigorously for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens and plops from the spoon. (It will bubble, but doesn’t curdle.) Take off the heat and set aside while you make the meringue.

5. Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Whisk to soft peaks, then add half the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking between each addition without overbeating. Whisk in the cornflour, then add the rest of the sugar as before until smooth and thick. Quickly reheat the filling and pour it into the pastry case. Immediately put spoonfuls of meringue around the edge of the filling (if you start in the middle the meringue may sink), then spread so it just touches the pastry (this will anchor it and help it stop sliding). Pile the rest into the centre, spreading so it touches the surface of the hot filling (and starts to cook), then give it all a swirl.

6. Return to the oven for 18-20 minutes until the meringue is crisp and slightly coloured. Let the pie sit in the tin for 30 mins, then remove and leave for at least another 1⁄2-1 hr before slicing. Eat the same day.

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