So its Valentine’s Weekend – I must admit I’m not feeling particularly romantic – what in my like feeble whale-like state. I mean, how any man can find someone who has to pee 5 times an hour and needs help being pushed up the stairs (probably to get to the toilet to pee!) is beyond me. We decided that instead of going out and being charged 10 times more for the same meal, that we would cook together instead. Well – the other half would cook and I would bake a cake for dessert. He’s a big lemon fan (don’t know why but I hate lemon cakes!!) and so I decided to try my hand at Lemon Meringue Pie – with a little help from Mary Berry of course. Its one of the harder cakes I’ve made and took a while longer than I expected, but well worth the effort when he tucked into a slice big enough to feed a small village. That man can eat!
What you need
For the pastry
For the lemon filling
For the meringue topping
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
First make the pastry. Measure the flour and butter into a food processor and blend together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the icing sugar, egg and one tablespoon of water and whizz again until combined to a ball. Our pastry was quiet ‘sticky’ so we had to add a little more plain flour until it managed to roll out.
Tip the pastry onto a work surface and roll out to a 3mm thickness.
Use the rolling pin to lift the pastry up and transfer it to line a 23cm/9in loose-bottomed flan tin. Be careful not to stretch the pastry as you tuck it into the corners. We didn’t have a loose bottom flan tin and so had to use a 23cm silicon based baking tray – not the best idea as the meringue cracked when we took it out of the oven after it was done – get the real deal here people, I know I will be the next time I make this!
Cover in cling film and place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.Take the pastry-lined tin out of the fridge and trim the excess pastry. Press the top edge of the pastry so that it stands slightly higher than the top of the tin.
Line the pastry case with parchment and fill with baking beans – an alternative is rice. What I did was lightly butter the shiny part of aluminum foil and place the buttered side onto the pastry – then weigh down with some uncooked rice – this is called ‘blind baking‘. Bake for about 15 minutes then remove the beans and parchment and return to the oven for a further five minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 170C/340F/Gas 3½.
Zest the 6 lemons – be careful not to zest your fingers in the process!
After you zest the lemons – juice them (or in my case as the better half to do it as he is way stronger than I am – of course I blame this on me being pregnant, otherwise i would totally CRUSH him)
Measure 450ml/16fl oz of water into a pan and bring to the boil.
Add the lemon cornflour mixture to the hot water and stir over the heat until the mixture has thickened, then remove from the heat.
In a bowl mix together the sugar and egg yolks.
Carefully whisk into the lemon mixture in the pan.
Stir over a medium heat until thickened.
Set aside for a few minutes and then pour into the baked pastry case.
For the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a free-standing mixer until soft peaks form when the whisk is remove – this should look like fluffy white clouds and takes about 8-10 minutes depending on how strong your electric mixer is.
Add the caster sugar a little at a time, still whisking until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Add the cornflour and whisk again.
Look at how shiny that is – L’Oreal hair Experts – eat your heart out!
Spoon on top of the filled pastry case and spread the meringue to completely cover the lemon filling.
Then create a swirl on the top of the meringue.
Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until the filling is completely set and the meringue is lightly golden and crisp. For us – it took about 20 minutes to get any sort of brown on the top. Can be served warm or cold.
I was not too happy about the meringue cracking when we took it out of the oven, but that was because we didn’t have a flan tin. Overall, this is one of the harder recipes Ive made, but it did taste quite nice (even if you don’t like lemon desserts!) Just be sure not to overdo with piling in the lemon mix into the pastry as I personally felt there was too much lemon to the pastry (the better half said you could never have too much lemon)
Here’s the full recipe from the BBC website: Mary’s Lemon Meringue Pie
Happy Valentine’s weekend everyone and happy baking!