Saturday, October 27, 2018

Weekend Cooking: Lemon Meringue Pie

Last week I made Mary Berry's Lemon Meringue Pie, and I have been pondering the way that I have, in effect, been learning the different basics of baking. A couple of years ago I wouldn't have actually attempted making this. Pastry from scratch? Not likely. Meringue? Even more unlikely. But gradually, by taking a series of small steps, I have got to the point where it doesn't feel as thought it is impossible.

So, what were the steps along the way?

Firstly, in relation to pastry, I started out by making Donna Hay's Lemon Tart (actually making the pastry twice due to my own rookie error), and then recently I made chocolate chess tart which starts with a chocolate pastry.  I am most definitely not ready to start making filo pastry or even puff pastry, but I think that shortcrust pastry is something that doesn't intimate me anymore. I do intend trying to make a rough puff pastry at some point, and also to try choux pastry, but not sure when that will be.

I had some exposure to making the lemon filling when I made the lemon tart, but also a few weeks ago I made a lemon mousse cake that started with making lemon curd which was delicious be itself, but then it was folded through cream etc to make a lemon mousse that was so good! As in really, really good!

Meringue has been a little more challenging, but I think that is because it can be influenced by so many factors. You can get the mixture right, but it still might not cook correctly because of humidity or even your equipment not being scrupulously clean. 

I started trying to make meringue last year when we made Eton Mess but that wasn't 100% successful. Since then I have made meringues a couple of times, most recently when I made meringue kisses to put on my mother's 70th birthday cake. Next steps will be to make a pavlova from scratch!!

Now don't be fooled. Whilst I my confidence is definitely up, I don't have these techniques mastered! Today I managed to not get the lemon filling exactly right because I didn't pay attention when I was adding the sugar to the egg yolks. I forgot to reset the scales to 0 and so when I realised I didn't know  how much sugar I had already added. I suspect I was a bit under so the lemon is very lemony, but it still tasted delicious. I guess if you want to eat something lemon, you want to taste it as lemon!

This is actually a Mary Berry recipe. Mary Berry has been a TV cook in the UK for many years, but I first heard of her when I started watching Great British Bake Off a few years ago. That show, the spin-off that features professional pastry chefs (Bake Off The Professionals), and the Australian version all are part of my must see TV viewing.  To get some idea of how long Mary has been on TV, her she is making Lemon Meringue Pie back in 1973!

And now, here is the recipe for the current recipe. You can also watch a more recent video for a variation on this recipe here and there is a link to the recipe I made below

Lemon Meringue Pie (Mary Berry)

For the pastry
225g/8oz plain flour
175g/6oz butter
45g/1¾oz icing sugar
1 large free-range egg, beaten

For the lemon filling
6 lemons, zest and juice
65g/2¼oz cornflour
250g/9oz caster sugar
6 free-range egg yolks

For the meringue topping
4 free-range egg whites
225g/8oz caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour


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.

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. 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. 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.

For the filling, mix the lemon zest and juice with the cornflour and stir to form a smooth paste. 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 and 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 removed. Add the caster sugar a little at a time, still whisking until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Add the cornflour and whisk again.

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. Allow to cool completely before cutting or serve very slightly warm.

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  1. I'm going to have to try Mary's version. Lemon meringue is my very favorite pie.

  2. I love to eat pie, but I have never really mastered making the crusts. Your lemon meringue pie looks amazing

    1. I don't know that I have mastered it either. Might just have to keep practicing!

  3. That is my all time favorite pie. Yours is gorgeous! I don't do well making my own crust and usually buy one. Nice cooking there!

    1. Thanks Tina. I was pretty happy with it!