I’m not a fan of cold meringues – you know, the kind you buy in patisseries, filled with cream and the like. They always seem too sweet for me, like a solidified form of candy-floss. But I do like hot meringues, which are made with half the amount of sugar and which complement sharp flavours like lemon and apple. Lemon meringue pie was one of the first things I learned to cook. Light and crisp, it seems to suit spring and early summer. There are many variations on the recipe. Here’s mine.
Lemon meringue pie
4 oz (approx 125 g) plain flour
1 oz (approx 30 g) lard
1 oz (approx 30 g) butter
1 oz (approx 30 g) cornflour
0.5 pint (approx 280 ml) water
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
3 oz (approx 80 g) light brown soft sugar
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
2 oz (approx 50 g) white sugar (granulated or caster)
To make the pastry case
Rub the butter and lard into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Mix to a stiff dough with a little cold water, added gradually. If the mix is still floury, add a little more water. If it gets sticky, add a little more flour.
(Or you could use ready-made pastry if you prefer)
Roll out pastry to line a flan tin about 7 inches (approx 28 cm) in diameter.
Bake the pastry case ‘blind’, i.e. empty, in a hot oven approx 200 C for about 10 - 15 minutes until pastry is set.
To make the filling
Mix the cornflour and lemon juice to a smooth paste. Add a little of the water from the measured 0.5 pint if necessary to make it thin enough to pour.
Put the rest of the 0.5 pint of water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
Pour the cornflour paste into the pan of boiling water, stirring all the time. It should thicken to a near-solid consistency.
Stir in the sugar and the lemon rind.
Simmer over a low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
Beat in the egg yolks.
Pour the lemon filling into the cooked pastry case.
To make the meringue
Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until standing in soft peaks.
Fold in the sugar using a metal spoon.
Pile the meringue on top of the lemon filling in the cooked pastry case.
Bake in a hot oven, approx 180 - 200 C, for 10 – 15 minutes until the meringue is set, crisp and golden brown.
Serve hot or cold. I expect to get 4 – 6 slices out of this recipe, but that depends how big a slice you like. It will keep a couple of days at room temperature if you don’t eat it all at one sitting.