Lemon Meringue Pie Italian style

21 May

I don’t know where the time goes – I have been busy again this week with guests and as of yesterday morning, the place is eerily quiet – no baby Carmen to grin at me having her breakfast before I have even got up!  I would have been very happy for her to have been left behind.  We have got behind with other friends who live here too and so last night was our first get together in a while.  I always try to start making at least one dish the day before friends come to dinner – one always runs out of time otherwise, particularly after a busy period.

I don’t think I have ever met anyone who doesn’t like lemon meringue pie, and it has to be said, it is a tiny bit fiddly (because of the three components) but is made less so if you make at least the pastry case the day before.  If you have time, then also make the lemon part and then it really is a breeze to finish.  I normally make the crispy kind of meringue but thought for a change I would make the Italian which you can pipe onto the pie in peaks – it looks a bit more special (although maybe a bit like you might buy from a shop ironically!).  Anyhow this pie is sufficient for 8 decent slices and is really fun to make.

You will need a fluted flan tin with a loose bottom, slightly smaller than a large dinner plate.

Preheat the oven to 180/350/gas mark 4

For the pastry

225 g plain flour

pinch of salt

150 g butter cut into pieces

75 g of caster or icing sugar (I use icing in this one, it seems to make the pastry

crisper)

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

Put the flour, salt and butter into your magimix and whiz up into breadcrumbs (I can’t do this by hand, my hands are too warm and so it is always a disaster)

Add the sugar and whiz again

Add the eggs and pulse until it leaves the bowl clean

Put in the fridge for at least an hour – I think the colder the better.

Lightly grease the tin, roll out the pastry (top tip, roll out between two pieces of clingfilm – it stops it cracking and splitting – also, I cut the pasty in half and roll in two pieces to make it more manageable for this type of pastry.  Then just join by gently pressing together with your fingers in the tin.  I leave the pasty overlapping the sides too to stop it shrinking – I have never been able to prevent this happening even if I put the pastry in the tin in the freezer!  So after it is cooked, I take a sharp knife and carefully cut off the excess.  Then put some baking parchment in your pie and cover with dried beans.

Bake for 15-20 mins – then I always remove the paper and beans, and pop back in for 5 or so minutes to cook the bottom a little more.

If you are making the day before, just wrap carefully in foil after cutting off the excess pastry.

For the lemon bit

175 ml water

140 g caster sugar (or I just use normal granulated as I always run out of caster, it makes not a lot of difference)

35 g cornflour

35 g butter

2 lemons, grate the rind and then juice them

3 egg yolks

Boil the water, lemon juice and zest and then add the butter and stir in.  Cream the eggs yolks, sugar and cornflour together.  Pour the lemon mix on the eggs and return to the pan and continue to cook gently on a low heat until thickened.  Spoon into the pastry case and leave to cool.

At this point pre heat the oven to 220/425/gas mark 7

Now you are going to make the meringue

350 g caster sugar (again I used granulated)

180 ml water

4 large egg whites or 5 normal

Whisk up the egg whites in a roomy bowl

Boil the water and sugar together to 129 degrees – yes I know, but if you don’t have a thermometer then just let it boil away for a couple of minutes after boiling point!

Turn on the whisk again, and pour on the boiling sugar, whisking all the time until thick and creamy – it does need to be reasonably firm, so if it isn’t just continue whisking for another couple of minutes – you will see it start to thicken up – it should be able to stand up on its own.  Don’t be tempted to leave it too soon or it will just be a big mess on the top of your pie!

Now if you have a piping bag you can have fun piping it on in spikes or if you simply can’t be bothered, just swirl it on with a spoon and spike it up a bit.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and cooked.  It will not be crispy, rather marshmallowy but is fun for a change and looks good too.

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