Wow, the weather here in Suffolk has been fantastic for the last few days and today we even dusted off and fired up the barbeque. I was looking for a light springtime pudding to follow the burgers and sausages and decided that a meringue pie would be the way to go. I considered one of my all-time favourite desserts, Rhubarb Meringue Pie, but in the end decided to try the classic lemon version instead as I've never actually made this from scratch before. I don't know why as it's another one of my favourite desserts with it's wonderful mix of flavours and textures.
I searched through a few cookbooks and eventually found a recipe I liked the look of (I found one in the Hummingbird Cookbook but it used 8 lemons - 8!). The following recipe only needs 3 lemons (which was handy as that was all I had) and produced a pie that served four generously with almost half of the pie left for later.
I was really pleased with how this turned out. The lemon filling stayed nice and firm, even when the pie was still warm, and the generous layer of sugar on top of the meringue, which gave it a wonderful crunch, was an inspired touch. Perfect for a sunny day in the garden.
Lemon Meringue Pie
(adapted from The Art of the Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis)
140g/5oz plain flour
70g/2 1/2 oz butter, cut into small cubes
Juice and zest of 3 unwaxed lemons
300ml/10 fl oz water
45g/1 1/2 oz cornflour
3 large egg yolks
60g/2oz butter, cut into small pieces
80g/2 1/2 oz vanilla caster sugar (I just used regular caster sugar)
3 large egg whites
120g/4oz vanilla caster sugar (as above)
1) Grease a 23cm fluted tart tin and preheat the oven to 190c/375 fan/gas mark 5.
2) Make the pastry by rubbing the butter and flour together until you have fine crumbs, or blitz them together in a food processor. Then gradually add the cold water until the dough begins to clump together. You should need approximately two tablespoons of water. Once you have a single ball of dough wrap it in cling film and leave it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
3) Roll out the dough on a floured surface (or use my no-mess-no-stress method and roll it out between two sheets of cling film) and use to line the tart tin then put the tin back in the fridge for another 20-30 minutes.
4) When you're ready to bake the pastry, line the tin with baking parchment or foil and fill with baking beans (see picture above), or dried rice or lentils, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then remove the parchment/foil and beans and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Leave to cool.
5) Make the filling by putting the lemon zest and juice in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (a double boiler). Add the cornflour and whisk in with 2 tablespoons of the water until you have a smooth paste. Bring the remaining water to the boil, add to the lemon mixture and keep whisking over simmering water until the mixture is thick and bubbling (my mixture thickened up as soon as I added the water). Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggs yolks, sugar and butter. Leave to cool slightly.
6) Make the meringue by whisking the egg whites until stiff and then adding a third of the sugar. Whisk again until stiff, fold in another third of the sugar and fold it in with a metal spoon. Spread the lemon mixture over the pastry, top with the meringue and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving (and it is just as good when cold).
Serves 6 generously