IS LEMON meringue pie an ostentatious delight deserving of modernisation, or a retro classic desert left in the past?
And which other dated dessert deserves a revival more than this pie?
If any dessert could be described as blousey, its has to be the lemon meringue pie; an all sweet blown dolly dessert that peaks above a core of acid enough to send anyone running for the Gaviscon.
There’s something joyously vulgar about its showy charms, with its brief but brilliant flowering. It won’t keep long enough to reward moderation, so gorge yourself before it gone!
Because of this, and because it seems to be something of an endangered species on our teatime table these days, it’s well worth mastering.
After all, who knows when you might be called upon to sooth a broken heart with such sugared succour!
Over the years, I have learned a lot about recipes that can be daunting and tricky to execute at times: it doesn’t have to be, especially now in times of panic buying and uncertainty when ingredients can be harder to find.
For all the glitz and glamour of the topping, the lemon meringue pie is built upon good honest shortcrust pastry.
I do, however, very much like the idea of rolling it out over a crushed biscuit base, this helps keep it crisp underneath the custardy filling: some might say it’s a cheat’s recipe, without the worry of having no flour, blind baking and soggy bottoms to contend with.
The lemon filling can be straightforward to prepare, but then again it can have quite complicated methods that put most people off with a flick of a page in the recipe book.
Using condensed milk for the filling is a lovely take on this 70s classic, treading a delicate line between balancing the sugary meringue without taking the roof off your mouth. I would always recommend using real fresh lemons to counterbalance the flavour.
The topping should be crunchy above, fluffy and marshmallow-like below, which means’s not long in the oven. But don’t use a blowtorch, it might look good but lacks a crisp shell that cracks, along with singed eye brows and setting the smoke alarm off.
I can’t think of anything more enticing than a lemon meringue pie. Not only does it scream Easter with its vibrant yellow colour, it’s just perfect to isolate yourself in the kitchen for the afternoon!
Keep safe and look out for the elderly.
Store cupboard Lemon Meringue Pie
75g/3oz melted butter
25g/1oz demerara sugar or soft brown
175g/6oz digestive biscuits, crusted
For the filling
1 x 397g can of full-fat sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks, save the whites for the meringue topping
2 large lemons, finely grated and juiced
For the meringue topping
3 egg whites
175g /6oz caster sugar
1. You will need a 21cm/8 inch, round, straight-sided or fluted ceramic tart dish, around 4cm/1 1/2 in depth.
2. Melt the butter in the microwave oven and stir in with the brown sugar and crushed biscuit crumbs in a large mixing bowl.
3. Press the mixture into the flan dish using the back of a spoon to bring the crumbs up around the sides of the dish and smooth the base in an even layer.
4. To make the filling, pour the condensed milk into a bowl, then beat in the egg yolks, lemon rind and strained juice until the mixture thickens.
5. Pour the lemon mixture into the biscuit-lined dish and allow to set in the fridge for an hour.
6. Put the egg whites into a large and greased-free bowl, preferably with an electric hand whisk, whisk the whites until thicken, then start adding the sugar a little at a time, whisking between each addition.
7. Spoon the meringue over the surface of the filling in blobs working into the middle, then gently swirl the surface to the edges.
8. Bake in a preheated oven 190c/Gas Mark 5 for around 20 minutes or until the meringue is a golden crisp colour. Set aside if you can for 30 minutes to allow the filling to firm up before serving warm.