Perfect, imperfect Lemon Meringue Pie

What is your ‘death row’ dessert – this is mine, absolutely hands down. I just adore it’s melt in the mouth full on sweet, lemony deliciousness. The pastry in this recipe is part of the secret as it is really, really light and is the perfect host or backdrop for the lemon filling and the soft, sweet, crispy meringue topping.

Pastry is not one of my strong points – something always seems to go wrong and this was no different.

The pastry base bubbled up from the base of the tin when it was baking in the oven (not lined with enough baking beans to weigh it down) then it shrank and a little part of one side fell in completely. Then to top it off some of the filling leaked out of a little crack in the pastry when it was baking in the oven. Disaster!

Guess what ?? It tasted divine and all of the ‘disasters’ made no difference at all!

Sometimes things don’t go to plan however sometimes that’s ok

So go get yourself some lemons and some eggs and give this a shot to see if it is a contender for your favourite dessert.

PS – if you have some lemon mixture left over, put it in an ovenproof ramekin and top with some meringue mixture for a delicious dessert (without pastry).

Serves 6/8

Time: 25 / 30 mins prep.
45 mins cooking time (Also 30 mins for pastry to chill in fridge)

Ingredients

for the pastry…..

220g / 8oz plain flour
50g / 2oz butter
50g / 2oz lard (cooking fat)
pinch of salt
cold water, to mix

for the pie filling…..

grated rind & juice of 3 large lemons (or 4 smaller ones)
550ml / 20 fl oz cold water
6 level tablespoons cornflour
100g / 4oz caster sugar
4 large egg yolks

for the meringue……..

4 large egg whites
220g / 8oz caster sugar

Equipment: 1 loose bottomed 25cm non-stick tin

How to make the pastry

  • Sift flour & salt into a large mixing bowl
  • Cut the butter & lard into cubes and add to the flour
  • Rub the butter & lard into the flour using your fingertips very lightly & gently until the mixture looks crumbly
  • Sprinkle 4 tablespoons water all over
  • Using a round bladed knife or palate knife bring the mixture together, adding a more water if needed a little at a time
  • Bring the mixture together with your hands to form a smooth ball of dough that leaves the bowl clean (If there are any bits that won’t stick to it then add a little more water)
  • Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling out.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C Gas 5
  • Grease the baking tin
  • On a floured surface roll out the pastry to a circle about 1cm wider than the tin
  • Drape the pastry over the rolling-pin, gently place it into the tin and press into the sides – don’t trim the pastry yet as it will shrink when it is baked in the oven.
  • Prick the pastry with a fork, line the tin with greaseproof paper and bake blind (using ceramic baking beans or rice)
  • Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes
  • Remove the paper and the baking beans and leave to cool.
  • Turn the oven down to 300°F / 150°C / Gas 2

How to make the filling

  • Measure the cold water into a jug and put the cornflour and sugar into a large bowl
  • Add a little of the water to the bowl and mix the cornflour & sugar to a smooth paste
  • Pour the rest of the water and the lemon rind into a saucepan.
  • Bring to the boil and pour it onto the cornflour paste and mix until smooth
  • Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and bring back to the boil.
  • Simmer gently for 1 minute – stirring all the time
  • Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the egg yolks and lemon juice.
  • Pour the lemon mixture into the pastry case and spread out evenly

Meringue

  • Place the egg whites in a large spotlessly clean bowl and whisk until they form stiff peaks.
  • Beat in a quarter of the caster sugar at a time until it is all incorporated, then gently spread the meringue mixture all over the filling so it seals the top completely. Make a few decorative swirls if you like too!
  • Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the meringue has turned pale beige and crisp

Leave to cool then savour and enjoy!

 

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