Few desserts make me happier than a big slice of Lemon Meringue Pie. Perhaps it is the big kid in me, but if I see this pie in a restaurant cake cabinet, with its cheery yellow curd and clouds of billowy meringue, I can never resist.
It is such a classic recipe and there are endless variations and methods of making it, but for me, it has to be a deep pie with a perfectly balanced curd and a mound of lightly toasted Italian meringue on top. I’m getting hungry just thinking of it!
Despite its fame, or perhaps because of it, lemon meringue pie can be hit and miss. We’ve all taken a bite of a mouth-puckeringly sour pie, or worse still, one with a dry, powdery layer of meringue on top. I’ve spent ages perfecting my recipe to create the ideal balance of sweet and sour for you to create at home.
There are three different steps in this recipe, making the pastry case, making the curd and making the meringue. It may seem like a lot of work, but once you have these techniques down, you’ll be able to whip up a perfect pie in no time. You can always cheat a little by using store-bought pastry, or a store-bought pastry case, though it is simple enough to make your own if you follow the recipe.
Do you love lemon meringue pie? Do you prefer Italian meringue or simple baked meringue? Let me know in the comments below! xJ
Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!
for the pastry:
- 300g plain flour
- 150g unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tbsp cold water
for the filling:
- 5 egg yolks
- 250g sugar
- 60g corn starch
- ¼ tsp salt
- 300ml cold water
- 175ml fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp lemon zest
- 60g unsalted butter
for the Italian meringue:
- 225g sugar
- 80ml water
- 4 egg whites
- ½ tsp cream of tartar or lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- To make the pastry, combine the flour, butter sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor with the blade attachment fitted. Process until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add the egg and the water and run the processor until the mixture forms a dough and clumps together. Turn out onto the benchtop and knead briefly to form a dough.
- Grease a large, deep-sided tart tin, then dust the benchtop with flour. Roll the dough out to a circle larger than the tin, dusting the dough with flour and turning as you go so that it doesn’t stick. Drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer to the prepared tin.
- Gently press the dough into the tin, avoiding stretching it as this can make it shrink later. Trim off any overhang and wrap in clingfilm. Prick the pastry all over with a form and transfer to the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4 and place a baking tray in the middle of the oven. When the tart has chilled, remove from the refrigerator, scrunch up a large piece of baking paper and use it to line the pastry. Top the baking paper with a large sheet of tin foil, pressing against the side and into all the crevices. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then carefully remove the tinfoil and baking paper and bake for another 20 minutes. If the base starts puffing up, use a fork to gently poke a few air holes into it.
- When the base has cooked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool. If there are any rips or tears, gently patch them up with the reserved pastry dough while the tart case is hot.
- To make the filling, whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add water, lemon juice and zest and whisk until smooth. Place over medium heat and whisk until the mixture is very thick, this will take 5-7 minutes.
- Pour a little of the hot mixture onto the eggs, whisking well. Add the egg mixture back to the saucepan, whisking to combine, then continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously until the mixture has thickened and is well combined. Remove from the heat and stir through the butter until melted. Pour into the cooked pie crust, smooth the top and set aside.
- To make Italian meringue, stir together sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat until dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook without stirring until the mixture reads 116°C/ 240°F on a candy or sugar thermometer. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites to firm peaks in a stand mixer. When the sugar syrup is hot, gradually pour it into the beaten egg whites, whisking all the time.
- Add the cream of tartar or lemon juice and vanilla extract and whisk for around 5 minutes on high until the mixture has cooled to room temperature.
- Spread or pipe the meringue on top of the lemon filling, using a spatula or a spoon to shape the meringue. Either use a kitchen blowtorch to brown the meringue or place it under a hot oven grill/broiler for 2-3 minutes until browned.
- Chill the Lemon Meringue Pie for at least 3 hours before cutting to ensure it is set.
To make Italian meringue you will need to measure the temperature of the sugar syrup as it needs to reach the 'soft ball' stage of around 116°C / 240°F. The old fashioned way of testing this is to drop a small amount of the syrup into very cold water, it should form a ball that does not hold in shape when gently pressed.
If the Italian Meringue seems like a bit too much of a fuss for you, you can simply beat the egg whites until firm, then add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until it is all used up. You'll need to bake the meringue topped pie for 20 minutes or so in the oven at 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4 until the topping is crisp and lightly browned.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 437Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 156mgSodium: 155mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 1gSugar: 28gProtein: 7g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I have to make my own pastry for Lemon Meringue Pie?
Not at all. A good quality store-bought pastry will do, though if you have time, try your hand at making your own, it is a great kitchen skill to have.
How long will Lemon Meringue Pie keep?
Lemon Meringue Pie is always best when it is eaten within a day or two of baking. Eventually the meringue and pastry can get a bit soggy.
Can I make this recipe in a different sized tin?
Sure! You’ll need to scale it up or down to suit. This recipe makes enough to fit a deep sided 2 litre (2-quart) capacity tin.