We are well into January now and I am well into another year of ignoring everything about ‘clean eating’ and ‘detox’, as we all know how garbage that is. I won’t get into it here. The year even started with a Lemon Meringue Pie sat in the fridge waiting for us. It was Maddie’s Birthday on NYE, and Lemon Meringue Pie is her favourite dessert. I’ve been putting off making it for a long time, as (admission) I’ve never made meringue. Couple that with never having made curd either and it all seemed a bit daunting. But, for her Birthday, I was determined to make it, even if I failed in a a blaze of glory and bad meringue.
We were going out for a, very large, dinner at Dishoom to celebrate NYE (so large in fact that I physically couldn’t move when it came to midnight) so we couldn’t actually eat any on the day. But, come the morning after NYE, when we were exhausted and just wanted to sit around in our PJs watching crap, having a whole lemon meringue pie in the fridge couldn’t have been better.
I mentioned my nerves for baking this, and they were very real. I was convinced I’d make runny curd and a meringue that wouldn’t crisp. I was worried I’d just make a lemon and sugar mess of egg white on pastry. If you’re similarly worried for how it could turn out, then take it slowly and in stages.
1. Prep the pastry shell, bake it and let it cool.
2. Next, make the curd, pour it in, let it cool.
3. Finally, make the meringue, cover it, bake it and you’ve got yourself the pie.
You could do the pie crust and curd the night before and make the meringue just before you serve it, if you really wanted.
- 500g Shortcrust Pastry (make your own or store bought)
- **For the curd**
- Zest of 3 lemons, juice of 6 (about 200ml)
- 50ml water
- 25g cornflour
- 175g caster sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 25g butter
- **For the meringue**
- 4 egg whites
- 225g caster sugar
- 2tsp cornflour
- 3 Earl Grey Tea Bags (Optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C(160°C fan assisted) and place a baking sheet in the oven.
- Roll out the pastry to about 1cm thick and big enough to fit into a 20cm pie dish. Transfer it to the dish, prick the bottom lightly with a fork, crimp the edges and cut off some of the excess. Make sure you leave a slight overhang.
- Cover with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans (I used rice).
- Place in the center of the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until the crust has turned golden. Remove the paper and beans, return to the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes until the base has baked.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- Either while it's cooling or later, make the curd.
- In a medium saucepan whisk together the lemon juice, zest, water and cornflour until smooth. Once it's smooth enough, whisk in the sugar and egg yolks.
- Heat gently, stirring constantly, until it's warm.
- Stir in the butter and bring to the boil, still stirring constantly.
- It should coat the back of the spoon. Once it reaches this point, remove from the heat and pour into the prepared pie case. Spread out evenly and leave to set. At this point, once cool, you could cover it with cling film and leave overnight in the fridge.
- It must be cool before you start on the meringue.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan assisted).
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, or with an electric whisk, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Still whisking, add in the sugar a spoonful at a time and whisk until the mixture is stiff and shiny.
- Whisk through the cornflour (and the earl grey if you're using). Spoon onto the top of the pie, making sure it covers the whole thing, sealing the curd in.
- Shape the meringue however you wish, I just formed it into gentle peaks.
- Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the meringue is golden.
- Allow to cool completely before serving.