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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Peach Passion Pie

Raspberries. Strawberries. Blackberries. Blueberries. … Cherries! Mangoes! Plums! Apricots! You see where I’m going with this, right? I’m talking about that little voice. The one that surfaces in the produce aisle saying “Buy ALL the JUICY, yummy goodness!” even though you can’t possibly eat that much. Luckily, there are pies: the perfect answer to the age-old the dilemma, “Why did I feel the need to buy 10 gorgeously ripe peaches?”

To mix them with passion fruit and make a Peach Passion Pie, of course!

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I started by making the same pastry recipe that I used for my pumpkin pie.

Take two balls of pastry and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out one ball to a little less than half a centimetre thick. Lay it in your pie plate and trim the edges so there is about an inch of overhang. Now roll the other ball out. This one is for the strips, so I sometimes roll it out a teeny tiny bit thicker, as I quite like the top pastry.

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Pre-heat the oven 180 C fan (200 C non-fan)

Filling ingredients:
7 peaches
1 passion fruit
3 tbsp flour
100 g brown sugar
100 g white sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Feel free to play with these amounts based on how sweet you like your pies and how big your pie plate is. Mine is only 20 cm across.

Cut the peaches into slices and put in a big bowl. Cut one passion fruit in half and scrape the insides into the same bowl. Add flour (3 tbsp), sugar (100 g of each), and cinnamon (1/8 tsp). Stir it all together and pour the mixture into your prepared pie crust.

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Now for the fun part — the lattice topping. A simple way to make a pie look straight from a storybook.

You can choose to do any number of strips, of course, but I went with 5.

Lay your 5 strips across the pie. Fold strips 1, 3, and 5 back on themselves. (Leftmost image) Lay one strip perpendicularly across the two remaining strips. (Middle image) Unfold strips 1, 3, and 5, then fold 2 and 4 back on themselves (Rightmost image) in order to lay down another perpendicular strip. Continue this way until that half of the pie is done.

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Because you started by folding back 1, 3, and 5 for the other side, you want to fold back 2 and 4 this time. (Leftmost image) Lay a piece perpendicularly across, unfold 2 and 4, and fold back 1, 3, and 5. (Middle image) Continue doing this until the whole pie is latticed. (Rightmost image)

PeachPieSecond3To give it a nice finished look, fold the outer edges of the pie over the lattice strips and press along the top edge of the plate. Afterward, I made fork depressions around the edge.

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Lastly, I lightly beat an egg and brushed the top of the pastry with a thin coating to give it a shiny golden crust once cooked.

Cook for 45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling. Allow to cool a bit so the insides aren’t too runny, then serve warm! (Or cold. Who am I kidding, Peach Passion Pie is even great cold the next morning for breakfast. Not that I would eat pie for breakfast…)

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Celebratory Pumpkin Pie

I know what you’re thinking. Pumpkin Pie is not a summer staple. Why did TCK make a Pumpkin Pie to celebrate Canada Day?? (Ya, that’s right, I just abbreviated my own nickname. Boo yah.) Well. As it turns out, around Canadian Thanksgiving and Christmas I spend so much time talking about, and making, Pumpkin Pie that many of my UK friends have come to believe it is eaten by Canadians at every holiday. The logic follows, therefore, that Canada Day would obviously feature this most festive of North American pies.

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Let’s start with the pastry. The original recipe says it makes enough for 6 balls (3 pies if you are using a top crust) but I rolled it into 5. If you have a bigger pie plate than my 8 inch (20 cm) you might even want to cut it down to 4 balls, just in case.)

Pastry Ingredients:
625 g plain flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp brown sugar, firmly packed
450 g lard, room temperature
1 egg
2 tbsp white vinegar
Cold water

In a large bowl, mix the flour (625 g), salt (2 tsp), baking powder (1 tsp), and brown sugar (3 tbsp). Add the lard (450 g).

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Using a pastry cutter, cut in the lard until your mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

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In a 240 ml capacity cup, crack one egg and mix together with 2 tbsp white vinegar. Add cold water until it fills to the 240 ml line. Stir.

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Add the liquid to your dry mixture and stir.

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Form it into evenly sized balls.DSCN5735

Refrigerate until cold (2 hours minimum). Before rolling, warm the pastry up to room temperature by setting on the counter for 1 hour. The balls of pastry freeze well and can also keep in the fridge for up to a week before using.

!!!!Now time for pie!!!!

Pre-heat the oven 180 C fan (200 C non-fan)

Ingredients:
425 g canned pumpkin (1 can Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin)
150 g brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
3 slightly beaten eggs
300 ml milk
160 ml evaporated milk

Combine canned pumpkin (425 g), brown sugar (150 g), salt (1/2 tsp), and spices. Mix.

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Add the eggs (3), milk (300 ml), and evaporated milk (160 ml). Blend well. The filling will be completely liquid. Set aside.

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On a lightly floured surface, roll out your pastry to a little less than half a centimetre thick. I rather like the saying that it should be the thickness of a £1 coin. You want it to be large enough to hang a centimetre or two over the sides of your pie plate. If your pastry is unevenly shaped, you can cut off excess bits and work them into the gaps. Roll up the sides so they sit nicely on the rim of your pan and either leave as is, press with a fork (like I did), or use some other fun decorative crust technique. I rolled out some extra pastry and used a knife to cut out a maple leaf.

Pour the filling into the crust. Then place it in the oven for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. I turn my pie halfway through the cook time because my oven hates me.

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Set the pie to cool, then chill in the fridge for a few hours or over night. It is fabulous eaten cold with whipped cream. I used to eat it with equal or greater parts whipped cream. Mmmmmm. Healthy!

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