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Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie - Perfect Meringue

This has to be one of the best desserts of all time – tangy lemon curd topped with billowing sweet meringue, brown and crunchy on top, white, sticky and soft within. Best of all it’s easy – time consuming, a little, perhaps, but this isn’t the same as difficult – to make. Added to it’s appeal is nostalgia – lemon meringue pie is a classic Sunday lunch dessert from my childhood, although, I suspect they were more often than not packet-mixes, so somewhat naturally, maybe snobilly, this is, I think, superior.

So, with various sources of inspiration, this is my own recipe for perfect lemon meringue pie. Now, handily enough, this amount perfectly fills a standard supermarket sweet pastry case, say 20cm/250g or so, which is how I made this the first time. This takes away part of the work but, you could, of course, use ready made pastry and line a pie dish of your own, in which case I would blind-bake the pastry first. And, to describe your pie as truly homemade, you could make the pastry yourself. (To line a loose bottomed pie or flan tin of about 20cm, 75g butter rubbed into 175g plain flour, with 15g caster sugar then added and bound with around 3 tablespoons of water should suffice. Work this to a firm dough, wrap in cling film and give it a little rest, 30 minutes at least, in the fridge, before rolling out on a lightly floured surface until it’s large enough to line the tin. Blind bake, by which I mean line the pastry case with baking paper, fill with baking beans and cook in a 200°C oven for 20 minutes, or until golden, removing the beans and paper for the final five minutes, and remembering to turn the oven down to 150°C after you’ve removed your cooked pie case.)

Lemon Meringue Pie

  • 1 shop-bought sweet pastry case of about 20cm, or one you’ve made yourself as described above
  • 230g caster sugar (50g and 180g, if it helps)
  • 40g butter
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 large lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2 egg yolks and 3 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 150°C.

First, make the lemon curd filling. Put 50g of the caster sugar in a bowl, and add the cornflour. Add 2 tablespoons of cold water, and mix to a paste.

Place the lemon zest into a saucepan and pour over 200ml water from a recently boiled kettle. Place over heat and return to the boil, then stir it in to the cornflour paste. Pour the whole lot back into the pan and bring it to the boil again, stirring constantly. Simmer for 1 minute, while carrying on stirring. Remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolks, lemon juice and butter. When you have a smooth, yellow mixture, pour this into the pastry shell.

Next, in a ridiculously clean bowl, whisk (by powered means if at all possible) the egg whites to stiff peaks, and then, continuing to whisk, add the remaining sugar, 180g of it, a spoon at a time, until all is combined and glossy.

Spoon the meringue over the lemon filling, using a silicone spatula to get it right to the edges and completely sealing in the yellow filling within. If you’re both inclined and able, swirl the meringue into peaks, and then bake for 45 minutes, by which time the meringue should be lightly browned and crips on top, but still gorgeously soft, stick and white within.

Serve warm or cold, with or without adornment, either cream, or better still (especially if warm) good, shop-bought vanilla ice cream.

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