Lemon Meringue Pie

A pie? How can something so sweet be a pie? Where are the four-and-twenty blackbirds? Instead, here’s heaven in a dessert bowl. Sure tastes better than those blackbirds.

Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie
Photo: Peter Whitfield

For a lemon meringue pie sufficient enough to provide an ample dessert for 4 to 6 sweet-toothed diners, you will need:

Filling

  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 1 lemon
  • 30g sugar
  • 130ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 eggs

Biscuit pastry

  • 60g butter
  • 50ml sugar
  • ½ an egg
  • 100g plain flour
  • 5g baking powder
  • Generous pinch of salt

I want to thank Beryl McCaul for the recipe. Like everything Beryl cooks, this is not only overwhelmingly delicious but a cinch to make.

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We begin with the biscuit pastry. Measure the ingredients carefully, then place the butter, sugar, half an egg and salt in the bowl of your mixer.

If you are wondering how to gauge half an egg, it’s simple: break an egg into a bowl, mix it with a whisk or fork, measure the volume and pour out half.

Or simply judge half by eye. It’s not critical, given the varying size of eggs.

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Beat the ingredients in the mixing bowl until they are combined. Then add the flour and baking powder.

Mix and then knead into dough. When you have completed this process, use a standard pie dish and press the dough into the sides and bottom of the dish to make a pie shell.

Prick the raw dough all over with a fork (to release the steam so that it stays flat while baking), then bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 15 minutes.

 

Remove and reserve for later in the proceedings.

Turn the oven down to 160°C, then proceed with the filling. Remove the zest from the lemon.

This, for the uninitiated, is the outermost layer of the peel (just the yellow bit). The zest contains the sharp-scented aromatics of the lemon, exactly what you need to give added zing to the final result.

There are dedicated zesting tools which you may consider for your kitchen toolkit. Alternatively, a carefully-used paring knife does the trick.

Separate the eggs, retaining yolks and white in separate bowls. Pour the lemon juice, lemon zest and both egg yolks into the receiving vessel of a food processor.

Rev it to the red line and blend them all together, then add the condensed milk. Blend for a few pulses.

Pour this zest-scented mixture into the biscuit pastry pie shell. Working at the speed of light, whip the egg whites plus a pinch of salt using either a ball whisk by hand or an electric mixer.

Stop beating when the egg whites form firm peaks. Spoon the meringue over the mixture already poured into the pie shell.

Make sure the oven has cooled down to 160°C before placing the pie inside. Ideally, pre-arrange the racks so that the pie is in the centre of the oven.

Let it bake for 15 minutes or so, or until the pie is slightly brown.

Remove, cool on a rack and serve with freshly whipped cream or a spoonful of frozen, homemade vanilla ice cream.