Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

Guest Chef no.5 - Jane Fitzgerald

Jane Fitzgerald is a mutual friend of both Lola and mine - we met her on the first day of college also, though not over a cigarette. She's a great cook, and prepared a fabulous dinner for us and a few other friends last Saturday. The entire meal was wonderful but the piece-de-resistance was an enormous Lemon Meringue Pie, it's size was matched only by how delicious it was.

She kindly agreed to share the recipe with us below, enjoy ......

Lemon meringue pie - a 50's housewife's piece de resistance. Don't be scared off by the long recipe, it'll be well worth the effort, and isn't too laborious if you have a food blender.

For the pastry:
4 oz (110 g) plain flour
pinch salt
2 oz (50 g) butter, at room temperature and cut up into dice - sized cubes
1 -2 tablespoons of water

For the filling:
grated zest (see my tip below!) and juice of 2 large lemons
3 level tablespoons cornflour
2 oz (50 g) golden caster sugar
3 large egg yolks
1½ oz (40 g) butter

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites
6 oz (175 g) golden caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Serves 6.

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C).

You will also need a 1 inch deep pie tin with sloping sides, measuring 7½ inch at the base and 9½ inch at the top. It helps if it's a nice dish as you'll be serving the pie in it.

Start by making the pastry. Sieve the flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Then add the butter, cut into smallish lumps, and, using only your fingertips, lightly rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in some cold water – about 1 tablespoon. Knead the pastry, adding a few more drops of water until you have a smooth dough that will leave the bowl clean. Or if you're lucky enough to have a food processor, mix the butter, salt and flour together until it does the same thing, then add the water. If you have enough time, leave it wrapped up the fridge for half an hour as this makes it easier to roll out. This also gives you time to put your curlers in and do your nails for when your husband comes in from a hard day at the office.

Next, roll the pastry out to a circle about ½ inch larger all round than the rim of the tin and lay it out in the tin. Make sure not to leave any air under it, and press a fork around the entire rim so that the pastry doesn't come away from the tin as it cooks. Then prick the base all over with a fork. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove the pastry case from the oven and immediately lower the heat to gas mark 2, 300°F (150°C) for the meringue.

Now, for the filling, otherwise known as lemon curd (you can have anything left over for your toast in the morning!). Measure 10 fl oz (275 ml) cold water into a jug, and spoon the cornflour and sugar into a bowl. Add enough of the water to the cornflour to make a smooth paste, then pour the rest of the water, along with the grated lemon zest, into a small saucepan. A little tip here. If you have a hand held blender and hate zesting lemons, do this instead. Using a peeler, peel the lemons, taking care not to peel off too much pith, then put this in a hand held blender and whizz around. Hey presto - hassle free zest.

Bring the mixture in the saucepan to the boil, then pour it gradually on to the cornflour, mixing all the time until it is smooth. Now return the mixture to the saucepan and bring back to the boil, still mixing. Next, simmer very gently for about 1 minute, stirring all the time to prevent any lumps forming. Then remove the pan from the heat and beat in the egg yolks, lemon juice and, finally, the butter. Pour the lemon mixture into the pastry shell and spread it out evenly.

Finally, for the meringue, use a large, roomy bowl (or a blender) and whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Now whisk in a quarter of the sugar at a time, then spread the meringue to the very edge of the pastry rim with a spatula, so that it seals the edge completely. Use a spatula to smooth out the meringue, or add a few swirls. Cook in the oven on the centre shelf for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the meringue turns a golden beige, and is squishy on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

I prefer to serve this luke warm, and all on its own.

It's a good thing that I'm salivating as I type!

This recipe is taken (mostly) from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery
Course and Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course.


marty, sharon and pearl said...

oh wow yum....must make one! s x

Brownieville Girl said...

I LOVE lemon meringue pie - but when I order it in coffee shops, it's usually made with nasty bought lemon curd :-(

This looks (and sounds) wonderful.

Lu said...

Sharon - yes it's well worht it - wish I had something in that photo to show scale - it was huge!
Brownieville - yeah the bought lemon curd has an unpleasant level of plastic about it!

aoife mc said...

Looks delicious! Mmmmm...lemon meringue...mmmmm....

Anonymous said...

I had NO idea Jane was this talented as a dessert maker otherwise I'd be camped outside her house on a permanent basis!

Lu said...

Oh yes Alex- you better believe it!