Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Lemon Meringue Pie

I looooooove lemon meringue pies. If I go to a cafe and it's on the menu, no matter how tempting the other desserts sound, I always go for the lemon meringue pie. I love how the tartness of lemons and sweetness of meringues combines with the crumbly, buttery base.

In fact, I would have baked this first if I hadn't left my trusty recipe box back in Auckland. However, my mother handed me some baking books to get me through until I receive my copy of Saved by Cake (23 days until the release date!). I perused through The Australian Women's Weekly Sweet Old-Fashioned Favourites and pretty much jumped out of my chair and went straight into the kitchen as soon as I found the recipe for lemon meringue pie.

For this one, you'll have to set aside a good chunk of your afternoon, as there's lots of waiting time in between. But I guess if you're a bit pressed for time, you can spread it out over two days.

Anyway, here's what you'll need for the base:
 1 1/2 cups plain flour
 3 tsp icing sugar
 140g butter
 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
 2 tbsp water

There were no instructions for preheating the oven, but I did it anyway, at 175C. 

I've never made my own pastry base before, so I was a bit excited. I used to just buy the ready made pastry sheets from the supermarket and use those. Anyway, if you decide to make your own, instructions are to sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl, and rub in the butter.

Rub in butter? I've never heard of that before. So my rubbing in ended up  more like 'smushing' the butter in. Then I added in the egg yolk and the water, as per instructions, to make the ingredients combine better.

Then I kneaded the dough in flour and rolled it into a ball, then covered it up in gladwrap and chucked it into the fridge for 30 minutes.

After half an hour, I rolled it out in flour, just to the rough size that I needed to line my baking tin. I felt so professional, using a rolling pin!

Well, I didn't really have a pie dish to work with, or a flan tin as specified in the instructions, so I just used a regular rectangle baking tin. It only said to grease the tin, but I always use baking paper when I bake. It's easier to lift goodies out of the tin and to clean afterwards. Anyway, instructions are to blind bake for 10 minutes, then a further 10 minutes without the additional paper and beans (or whatever you choose to blind bake with - I used macaroni shells).

Well, she's not pretty, but she smells good. Note to self: purchase pie tin asap.

While the pastry was cooling, I started on the filling, which needed:

 1/2 cup cornflour
 1 cup caster sugar
 1/2 cup lemon juice
 1 1/4 cups water
 2 tsp grated lemon rind
 3 egg yolks
 60g unsalted butter

Instructions were to combine cornflour and sugar in a pan, then gradually stir in lemon juice and water, and keep stirring until smooth. Then I placed the pan on the stove over medium heat and kept stirring until the mixture became thick and started boiling. Once it was thick, I put the heat down low and let it simmer for 30 seconds while continuously stirring. The instructions then said to remove from heat, then quickly stir in the rind, yolks and butter, and to keep stirring until butter is melted. Cover, and cool to room temperature.

I couldn't resist tasting it while it was still hot though. Mmm... so yummy. :) As for the meringue, well, I didn't do it until about an hour after, since I was waiting for the filling to cool.

For the meringue, you need:

 3 egg whites
 1/2 cup caster sugar

Instructions were to beat the egg whites with electric mixer until soft peaks form and to gradually add the sugar in.

You have no idea how excited I was to put it all together.

The filling was so thick and gooey, it was quite easy to spread across the pastry base.

Then the meringue... and once I covered the filling with the meringue, off the whole thing went to the oven for 5 minutes.

Just until it was lightly toasted. Mmm mmm mmm...

The effort put in was so worth it. And the taste?

It's like sunshine in a slice. Best lemon meringue recipe I've ever come across. Definitely a keeper!

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