Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie is one of those gorgeous looking desserts that Mum miraculously turned out perfectly, time and time again. So the idea of trying (and potentially failing) to make one myself has pretty much always terrified me. And what is the healthy thing to do when something scares you? Avoid it like the plague, of course!! But recents events called for a little bit of extra love and care in the baking department, so I grew a pair (of nerves, that is. What else??) and tried my hand at this most glorious of pies.

Setting: Moving house.
Characters: Tirelessly Helpful Friend; Selflessly Helpful Friend; Selflessly Helpful Friend’s Generous Family; Crazy Grateful Baker
Plot Summary: THF moves a lot of boxes. There is a lot of going down and up stairs. SHF and SHFGF store said boxes. CGB knows THF is a huge fan of lemon and so bakes two Lemon Meringue Pies. One for each helpful household. Happy ending: the pies were a total success.

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This post also signals the end of the batch of pastry I made waaaaay back in July for the Celebratory Pumpkin Pie. So yet again, pop back to that post for my pastry recipe.

Before rolling out the pastry, preheat your oven to 200 C non fan (180 C fan).

Once your pastry has warmed up to room temperature, flatten it a bit with your palms (leftmost picture) then roll it out on a floured surface, turning, flipping, and sprinkling flour so it doesn’t stick to the counter. Stop when it is about a 1/4 inch thick and hangs an inch or so over the edge of your pie plate.

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I decided to roll up the edges and do a waved crust, as seen below.

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Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork all over so it does not puff up too much while cooking, then line the pastry with tinfoil and fill with beans or ceramic cooking beads.

Put in the oven to cook for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil (containing the beans) and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until a light golden brown.

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Set aside and lower the oven temperature to 175 C fan (155 C non fan). I actually turned mine off until I started making the meringue. Energy saving and all that jazz.

Lemon Filling Ingredients:
4 lemons
3 tbsp corn starch
150 ml cold water
150 g white sugar
4 egg yolks (keep the whites for the meringue)
2 tbsp butter

Grate and juice four lemons.

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In a medium saucepan stir your cornstarch (3 tbsp) into cold water (150 ml), then stir in the juice and grated rind of four lemons. Turn the hob on to a medium heat and gradually bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally.

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Once the mixture starts to thicken add the sugar (150 g) and continue stirring (leftmost picture). When it is quite thick, as seen in the right picture, take it off the heat.

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The four egg yolks should be lightly beaten in a medium sized bowl. Whisk 1/4 of your lemon mixture into the egg yolks. Add another 1/4 of the lemon mixture into the yolks and whisk. Now transfer your lemony yolks into the sauce pan with the remaining 1/2 of your lemon mixture. Whisk together and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. It will be thick and spoonable. Remove from heat and stir in the butter (2 tbsp).

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Pour into your prepared pie crust then set aside.

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At this point, make sure you’ve turned your oven to 175 C non-fan (155 C fan).

Meringue Ingredients:
4 egg whites
200 g white sugar
2 heaping tsp cornstarch

In a large bowl, beat your egg whites (4) until they are nice white foam (top right). Start gradually adding your sugar, just a couple tablespoons at a time, while still blending. When you have added half of the sugar (bottom left), stop and add the cornstarch (2 heaping tsp). Beat that in, then add the last half of your sugar, gradually as you did before. The finished product will be thick and glossy with peaks that can stand on their own. (bottom right)

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To cover your pie, start spooning the meringue on around the edges and work in, smoothing it as you go. I like to pile it nice and high in the centre, then either make traditional meringue peaks or use a spoon to create cloud-like undulations.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the meringue is golden and firm. Let cool on a rack until set, at least an hour, chill, then serve.

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