Saturday, 2 March 2013

Lemon Meringue Pie

It occurred to me this week that I have never before made a lemon meringue pie, so I decided to make one this weekend.

Lemon meringue pies are a baking classic - a crisp, butter pastry encasing a silky, bittersweet filling and topped with a pile of fluffy meringue. So understandably, I was a bit nervous about taking on this baking challenge. I feared I would produce an uneven pastry leaking a sticky, sloppy, soup of lemon curd and topped by a broken, weeping meringue.

So before I started I armed myself with the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book and some tips from this baking blog.

Luckily, my lemon meringue pie turned out pretty well for a first attempt. Not perfect - the ratio of filling to meringue was a bit off, but I think this was because I used enormous lemons and eggs that were a bit too small. The large amount of filling also caused the pie to leak, creating what Paul Hollywood would  scorn as a soggy bottom. But to you Paul, I say this: No-one has a dry bottom when you're in the room, you silver fox.

Also, my egg whites were not stiff enough to pipe, so next time I'll use the Italian meringue technique. The recipe below includes the alterations I would make next time I attempt a lemon meringue pie.

This is what the pie looked like:

And this is how to make it:

You will need:

For the pastry:
175g flour
87g butter or margarine meant for use in pastry (I used Stork)
3-5 tbsp water
an 8-inch quiche or pie tin

For the filling:
2 unwaxed lemons
2 large egg yolks
5tbsp cornflour
125g granulated sugar
300ml water

For the meringue:
2 large egg whites
75g caster sugar
80ml water
a sugar thermometer

1. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

 2. Add the water, a little at a time until the mixture comes together in a dough. Roll it into a ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until more than large enough to line the tin. Slide the tin underneath and use a piece of excess dough to push the pastry into the corners of the tin. Then trim off any excess by rolling a rolling pin across the top of the tin.
4. Bake blind for 10-15 minutes, using a piece of foil or baking parchment, weighed down with baking beads, dried beans or uncooked rice, to stop the pastry from rising.
5. Bake for another 5 minutes until firm, then put aside to cool.
6. To make the filling, zest and juice the lemons into a saucepan and add the granulated sugar and 300ml water. Heat until the sugar dissolves, then add the cornflour and whisk, then continue to heat until thickened.

7. Remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolks. Pour the warm filling into the pastry base, level out with a spatula and set aside to cool.
8. Preheat the oven to 150C. To make the meringue, heat the caster sugar and 80ml water until it reaches 110C on the sugar thermometer. Continue heating and meanwhile, whip the egg whites into stiff peaks. When the sugar syrup reaches 115C, pour it slowly into the egg whites, whipping all the time but being careful not to get any of the sugar syrup on the whisk.
9. When the meringue cools (up to 15 minutes later) pipe it onto the cooled lemon filling, making sure it is completely covered, then bake for 35 minutes.
Et voila, there it is:

Not perfect but very tasty. And if you follow my recipe yours should be a little more perfect than my first attempt.

See you next time my little meringues,


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