Lemon Meringue Fail

by mutteringhousewife

One problem with conducting a blog in which you occasionally mention food preparation is that people form certain expectations about your abilities. So when you’re invited for dinner and you offer to bring dessert, it might be a wise idea to bring something you’ve actually made before.

Well, I have actually made lemon meringue pie before, but I wasn’t happy with it. This time, I was definitely pretty happy with the crust, though it was a little over cooked. I had a lot on on Saturday, I stopped concentrating. Anyway, it was three tablespoons of brown sugar, two tablespoons of crystallised ginger, zapped in the Thermomix. You don’t have to use ginger, but I really like it with lemon. Add 150 grams of cold butter, two cups of plain flour and three tablespoons of cold water. Zap that in the Thermomix. It will turn to a crumb like substance first, but should start becoming more dough like after ten seconds or so. If it doesn’t, add another tablespoon of water. Don’t go nuts with the water, a wet dough will make somewhat tougher pastry. You just want it to hold together. Squash it into a ball, wrap in Gladwrap, then put it in the fridge for half an hour or so while you melt the chocolate for the topping of the choc mint slice you’re making as a backup.

Roll out the pastry, then gently lift it into a pie dish. I dust the pie dish with a bit of flour, but as I use a glass pie dish I’ve not had a shortcrust stick to it. I had a few off cuts left, so I also made some mini tart cases. Cover it with baking paper, load it up with some barley you found in the back of the pantry that’s past its use by date and is looking a bit dubious and bake it at 180 degrees for about ten minutes. Wade out into the back swamp and dump the barley in the compost, remove the baking paper (once you’ve made it back to the kitchen), then bake for another ten minutes. You just want it golden. I really must get myself some pie weights.

I don’t think I’ll trouble you with the filling recipe. There seem to be a few schools of thought on the filling, and I foolishly went with the corn flour and water version. You whisk together cornflour, water, lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar over heat (or in a Thermomix) until it boils, then whisk in three egg yolks. You pour that into a bowl and refrigerate it. It thickens up quite satisfactorily, at which point you spoon it into the pie case. Then you do the meringue, which is whisk three egg whites and a pinch of cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Pour into the KitchenAid while it’s still going a third of a cup of caster sugar and you’ll see the meringue go all glossy. Spoon it over the cold pie, then back into the oven until the top of the meringue just starts to brown.

Shall I cut a long story short? After an excellent meal and much nagging by the Horror I cut into the pie to discover it was more of a meringue pie with lemon sauce. The lemon filling had completely liquefied. I probably should have put it in the fridge. Oh, it got eaten.

It was delicious.

But, embarrassing! Especially as my hostess had been calling me Nigella all evening.

So I’ve been thinking about trialling different filling recipes to put into the leftover tart cases. But the kids have sneaked them all and eaten them unfilled. They’re just going to have to put up with eating different lemon meringue pies for dessert this week. How I make them suffer.