It all started when I bought a pie dish last week in TK Maxx (the home section gets me dizzy). It was ceramic and pastel green and we were obviously meant to be. Once I got home and started to look up recipes to try; the fear set in. I'd never made pastry before, let alone an entire pie from scratch. Cake and I have very frequent dalliances but pies? Totally new territory.
But it turns out I needn't have worried. Thanks to a sweet little recipe courtesy of British Baking by Oliver Peyton (no, I still cannot get enough of that book) I managed just fine. Even without the aid of a food processor, I produced just the kind of buttery, crumbly shortcrust I had hoped for. And I haven't even mentioned the rest yet...
There are a lot of recipes for pies out there but lemon meringue was unanimously voted upon in my house and so I set to work. I had one problem though; my meringue topping cracked in the oven! Anyone have any ideas as to how I stop this happening again?
The filling was a sort of quick lemon curd (much quicker than the real lemon curd I made a few posts ago) and was deliciously tart. I doubled the amount of meringue suggested in the recipe as I suspect my pie dish is a little deeper than the one it used and was very pleased with the result. I had never made meringue either so this recipe was full of firsts and risks of disaster but despite the cracking on top, the meringue was both fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. I was very pleased!
Unfortunately, when I baked last night I started a little later than normal and the sun went down before I could get some pictures of the inside. So when it came to doing it this morning, this was all that was left:
A sure sign that it was a hit! Speaking now, around 24 hours after it cooled off, there is not a crumb left.
Recipe (adapted from British Baking by Oliver Peyton):
For the pastry:
220g plain flour
pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter cut into cubes
2 tbsp cold water
Sift flour and salt together before adding the butter. use the back of a fork to work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a course sand. Add the water and then find with your fingertips. Mould into a ball before covering with clingfilm and chilling for at least 30 minutes.
After chilling, roll the dough out big enough to cover your pie dish and drape over the it. Cut off any excess and cover with tin foil. Drop baking weights or beads onto the foil and place in the oven for ten minutes at 180c/gas mark 4.
After ten minutes, remove from the oven and take off the weights and foil. Place the dish back in the oven , uncovered, for another ten minutes.
Allow to cool.
For the filling:
5 tbsp cold water plus 200ml
3 tbsp cornflour
zest and juice of 2 large lemons
2 egg yolks
45g butter cut into cubes
Turn oven down to 150c/gas mark 2.
Combine sugar and cornflour in a bowl and add the 5 tbsp water. Mix well. In a pan, combine the 200ml water and the lemon zest and heat until almost boiling. Now whisk in the cornflour mixture. Once combined, remove from the heat and add the eggs, lemon juice and the butter before returning to the heat. Stir continuously until thickened, never letting the mixture boil. Pour filling into pie case.
For the meringue:
4 egg whites
Whisk egg whites until light and fluffy then slowly add the sugar until the mixture becomes thick, stiff and glossy.
Spread meringue over the filling and bake for 40 minutes or until the meringue is golden.