Lemon meringue pie
- Preparation and cooking time
- Total time
- plus chilling and cooling
- Serves 8
- 200g plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
- 25g icing sugar
- a pinch fine salt
- 100g cold butter, diced into 1cm cubes
- about 4 tbsp ice-cold water
- 180g caster sugar
- 75g cornflour
- 5 large lemons, zested and juiced
- 100g butter, diced into 1cm cubes
- 5 large egg yolks
- 5 large egg whites
- 250g caster sugar
- 2 tsp cornflour
- STEP 1
To make the pastry, add the flour, icing sugar and salt to a food processor, and pulse briefly to mix. Add the butter and pulse briefly, a dozen or so times, until you have coarse crumbs, resisting the temptation to over-process or the pastry can become tough rather than tender. Add ice-cold water 1 tsp at a time, pulsing briefly between additions, until the mixture starts to just clump together. Tip onto a sheet of clingfilm and wrap into a ball, just pressing gently together, no need to squeeze hard or knead, tiny air gaps are a good thing with pastry. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- STEP 2
Remove the pastry from the fridge and lightly dust the worktop with a little flour. Roll out to a large circle to fit a deep, loose-bottomed flan tin 25cm wide and 3.5cm deep with enough to hang over by a couple of centimetres or so – it should be about 4mm thick. Fold the pastry circle gently in half, then half again, then lift into the tin, putting the point dead centre before carefully unfolding again. Without stretching the pastry, lift and pat into the corners, allowing the excess pastry to hang over the edges. Transfer the tin, excess pastry and all, back into the fridge to chill for a further 30 minutes. This is an important step to minimise shrinkage on cooking, and, believe me, you’ll need the pastry to stay tall to contain all the filling.
- STEP 3
Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Once the pastry’s chilled, take the rolling pin and swiftly and firmly roll on across the surface to cut off the extra pastry. Use a finger and thumb to gently squeeze the pastry all the way around so it’s a couple of millimetres above the level of the tin. Line with baking paper and baking beans, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes until it’s cooked all the way through. Remove from the oven, taking out the paper and beans, and reduce the temperature to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Put the pastry case back in the oven for a further 5 minutes to dry out the base. Remove and leave to cool.
- STEP 4
To make the filling, measure 450ml water into a jug. Add the caster sugar and cornflour to a mixing bowl, and pour in just enough of the water to form a smooth paste. Add the rest of the water to a pan and add the lemon zest and juice. Set over a medium heat and bring to the boil, then simmer steadily for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually pour into the sugar and cornflour paste, mixing continuously as you do. Once the mixture is smooth, pour back into the pan and set over a low heat. Allow to simmer for a few minutes, stirring all the while, until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir through the butter and egg yolks. Pour into the cooked pastry case, levelling with a table knife.
- STEP 5
To make the meringue topping, add the egg whites to the clean bowl of a food mixer. Or use an electric whisk in a mixing bowl – just make sure everything is very clean as any grease will prevent the whites from frothing up. Whisk until the whites hold soft peaks, then add the sugar, a third at a time, whisking really well between each addition. Whisk in the cornflour until combined.
- STEP 6
Spoon the meringue into a large piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle, and starting at the pastry edge, pipe around in circles until you reach the middle, completely sealing the lemon filling. You can also spoon the meringue onto the filling, but a piping bag makes it easier to get an even spread. Use a clean finger to swirl the surface artfully into interesting peaks, then bake for around 35 minutes until the meringue is light golden and crisp.
- STEP 7
Remove from the oven, and allow to go completely cold in the tin before serving.