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Lemon Meringue Pie

This famous English classic needs a revival. It is supremely light, squashy and fragrant with lemons. Why did we ever forget about it?

 
 
 Lemon Meringue Pie

  Serves 6

Ingredients
For the pastry:
 4 oz (110 g) plain flour
 pinch salt
 1 oz (25 g) butter, at room temperature
 1 oz (25 g) lard, at room temperature
For the filling:
 grated zest and juice 2 large lemons
 3 level tablespoons cornflour
 2 oz (50 g) golden caster sugar
 3 large egg yolks
 1½ oz (40 g) butter
For the meringue:
 3 large egg whites
 6 oz (175 g) golden caster sugar
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C).
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Equipment
You will also need a 1 in (2.5 cm) deep pie tin with a ½ in (1 cm) rim and sloping sides, measuring 7½ in (19 cm) at the base and 9½ in (24 cm) at the top.

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course and Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course. It has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine

Method

Start by making the pastry: first sieve the flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl, holding the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing. Then add the butter and lard, cut into smallish lumps, and, using only your fingertips, lightly rub the fat into the flour, again lifting the mixture up high all the time. When everything is crumbly, sprinkle in some cold water – about 1 tablespoon. Start to mix the pastry with a flat-bladed knife and then finish off with your hands, adding a few more drops of water until you have a smooth dough that will leave the bowl clean. Then pop the pastry into a plastic bag and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 


Next, roll the pastry out to a circle about ½ in (1 cm) larger all round than the rim of the tin. Cut a ½ in (1 cm) strip from the edge of the pastry, dampen the rim of the tin with water and fix the strip round it, pressing down well. Next, dampen the strip and line the tin with the pastry circle, making sure you don't trap any air underneath it. Then prick the base all over with a fork. Bake on a high shelf in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through. 

Remove the pastry case from the oven and immediately lower the heat to gas mark 2, 300°F (150°C) for the meringue.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Measure 10 fl oz (275 ml) cold water into a jug, and spoon the cornflour and sugar into a bowl. Add enough of the water to mix the cornflour to a smooth paste, then pour the rest of the water, along with the grated lemon zest, into a small saucepan. Bring this up to the boil, then pour it gradually on to the cornflour, mixing all the time until it is smooth.

Now return the mixture to the saucepan and bring back to the boil, still mixing. Next, simmer very gently for about 1 minute, stirring all the time to prevent it from catching. Then remove the pan from the heat and beat in the egg yolks, lemon juice and, finally, the butter. Pour the lemon mixture into the pastry shell and spread it out evenly. Finally, for the meringue, use a large, roomy bowl and in it whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. 

Now whisk in a quarter of the sugar at a time until it is all incorporated, then spread the meringue to the very edge of the pastry rim with a palette knife, so that it seals the edge completely (You can also make a few decorative swirls). 

Cook in the oven on the centre shelf for 45 minutes, by which time the meringue will have turned pale beige, and be crisp on the outside and squashy within. 

Serve warm or cold, but if warm, leave it to settle for about 20 minutes. 

Chilled pouring cream is a nice accompaniment.

 

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