I wonder, at times, that if it were not for my thoroughly biased friends, whether this blog would have continued beyond a few months. These rockstars, champion me like I can do no wrong with this blog. They refuse to see the photographs that are unsharp and grainy or the writing that at times, is unimaginative and cheesy or when the baking is sloppy and messy!! It's a different matter that they are way more creative and talented than yours truly, and definitely, always better cooks and bakers!!
And the best part is, that most of them, now live across the world and have never tasted my baking and yet, they encourage, compliment and feed the ego like only friends can. We may not celebrate Thanksgiving, here in India, but I can always bake a pie for my friends, the one thing I got right in life!!
So, why did I choose a lemon meringue pie?! Well, invariably these friends have a few suggestions for my future posts. It could be an old favourite of theirs or something they have recently tried. This pie has been on a friend's wish list and long overdue! (Yes Debi, this one has your name on it!!)
What goes in a lemon meringue pie?? It is a pie filled with a lemon custard and then topped off with a meringue topping that is reminiscent of a pavlova - crisp exterior with a marshmallowy inside.
And for all you baking enthusiasts, here's your trivia for the day, if the lemon custard were replaced with lemon curd, this would have been called a 'lemon meringue tart'!! Well, you learn something new every day!!
The pie shell is your usual buttery, short-crust pastry. The lemon custard is strictly for the citrus lovers or maybe, I went over board with the amount of lemon juice used. The lemon tang will hit your tongue, zing up your nose and pop your eyes wide open! Yes, it's not for the faint-hearted or the citrus non-believers!
The citrus layer is then moderated with that meringue that tones down all excesses of the custard it hides beneath itself. It is delightfully light on the palate and is much needed to balance the dish.
Anything I'd do differently? When you place the meringue on top of the custard, be sure to see that it touches the pastry shell on the edges, to anchor it and stop it from sliding once it's baked. Secondly, I wonder whether I should have baked the custard layer first and then baked the meringue layer. You can then be surer that the custard layer has set as desired. Any experts want to weigh in??
Else, this is a pie where a tiny slice goes a long way, making it perfect for a large group of friends. It is a pie that will jolt you out of your lethargy and invigorate with its vibrancy and zing!!
So, this weekend, a huge shout out to my friends, wherever in the world you are. Love you all heaps, even if I am utterly hopeless when it comes to picking up the phone!!
Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 9-inch pastry
For the pastry
For the pastry
- 140 gms plain flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 70 gms unsalted butter, cold and cut in pieces
- 2-3 tablespoons ice cold water
- Juice of 3 lemons and Zest of 1 lemon
- 250 mls plus 1 tablespoon of water
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons corn flour
- 3 egg yolks (large eggs)
- 3 egg whites
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon corn flour
- For the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in just enough water to bind the mixture. Gather the pastry into a ball.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie dish and trim the edge to leave a 1/2 inch overhang.
- Refrigerate the pastry for at least 20 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C.
- After at least 20 minutes, remove the pastry. Prick the case all over the fork. Line with greaseproof paper/foil and fill with baking beans. (I use old rice). Bake for 12 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and continue baking, until golden, 6-8 more.
- Once the pastry is removed, lower the oven temp to 170 deg C.
- For the lemon custard filling, in a saucepan, combine the lemon juice, zest, 250 mls water, 1/2 cup caster sugar and butter. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Meanwhile, dissolve the corn flour in 1 tablespoon of water. Add the egg yolks.
- Add the egg yolk mixture to the lemon mixture and return to the boil, whisking continuously until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
- Cover the surface with greaseproof paper and let cool.
- For the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a free-standing mixer until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Add the caster sugar a little at a time, still whisking until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Add the corn flour and whisk again.
- Pour the lemon custard filling into the baked pastry case. Spoon the meringue on top of the filled pastry case and spread the meringue (read the tip below) to completely cover the lemon filling. Then create a swirl on the top of the meringue.
- Tip: Put spoonfuls of meringue around the edge of the filling (if you start in the middle, the meringue may sink), then spread so it just touches the pastry (this will anchor it and help stop it sliding). Pile the rest into the centre, spreading so it touches the surface of the hot filling (and starts to cook), then give it all a swirl.
- Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until the filling is completely set and the meringue is lightly golden and crisp.
- Serve warm or cold. (I prefer it cold).