There is a three-way tie in our house when it comes to choosing our favourite favourite cake.
Depending on the day, the exact pecking order can sometimes change, so we’ve come to an agreement over the years that all of them deserve top marks.
Despite the hundreds of pastries and desserts that we’ve tried and loved, the Transcendent Trio are absolute classics: cheesecake, milk tart, and lemon meringue pie.
Lemon meringue pie is probably the most irresistible of sweet pies, because it delivers three completely different textures in every mouthful:
- At the bottom, a crisp, flaky, buttery crust. This sets things up for the heavenly spires of sweetness above.
- Then comes the middle! A golden treasure, loaded with deliciously tangy lemon curd that is half zesty, half creamy and endlessly dreamy.
- Taking things home, clouds of billowing meringue are piled up high on top, slightly torched for a toasted marshmallow finish.
Remember what I said about no favourites? Forget that. I’m making this baby again straight after this.
When lemons are in season, this is a perfect way to put them all to good use. You could make the lemon curd filling ahead of time and then assemble the rest of the pie together on the day.
Lemons are also high in vitamin C and are said to assist in strengthening your immune system. They also smell as good as they taste, which makes them perfect for drinks too.
Although all lemons are good, Meyer or Eureka lemons are the ideal pick for any lemon recipe, delivering the perfect balance between sweet, sour and tart.
Lemon Meringue Pie
For the pastry
- 200 g plain flour
- 150 g unsalted butter cubed and chilled
- 25 g icing sugar
- 1 egg beaten
- pinch of salt
For the lemon filling
- finely grated zest of 6 lemons
- 150 ml orange juice strained if not smooth
- 250 g caster sugar
- 60 g cornflour
- 6 eggs
For the meringue
- 6 egg whites
- 300 g caster sugar
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
To make the pastry
- In a mixing bowl add the flour, salt and butter
- Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
- Add the icing sugar and egg and mix to combine
- Bring together to form a rough ball of dough
To make the pastry case
- Lightly flour the work surface and roll the pastry to a disc large enough to line the base and sides of the tin and about 3mm thick. (This is easier if done between 2 sheets of baking paper.)
- Lift the pastry into the tin, being careful not to stretch it as you press it into the base and sides
- Trim the excess and chill it for 30 minutes, until firm
- preheat the oven to 200 °C
- Line the chilled pastry case with baking paper and baking beans or rice
- Bake on the middle shelf for 15 minutes, until the top edge starts to turn crisp and golden
- Remove the baking paper and beans or rice
- Return the case to the oven and bake it for a further 5–10 minutes to dry out and cook the base
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool
To make the filling
- While the pastry case is cooling, mix the lemon zest and juice with the cornflour in a small bowl until smooth
- Pour 150ml of water and the orange juice into a saucepan and bring it to the boil
- Add the lemon mixture and simmer, stirring, until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, then remove the pan from the heat
- In a large bowl, mix the caster sugar and egg yolks together, then pour in the hot lemon mixture, stirring continuously
- Pour the mixture back into the pan and stir over a medium heat until it becomes a thick custard
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly, then pour the custard into the baked pastry case
- Chill until set
To make the meringue
- Preheat the oven to 150 °C
- Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk until soft peaks form
- A spoonful at a time, add the caster sugar, whisking continuously until the meringue is stiff and glossy
- poon the meringue in a large dome on top of the set lemon filling, spread the meringue to the very edges of the pie, so that it touches the crust, before decorating it with pretty swoops and swirls. This will seal the pie and keep it from losing moisture.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until the meringue is golden and crisp
- Serve warm
The beauty and performance of Emile Henry's iconic pie dish elevates pie baking from plain ordinary to ceramic art, as it insulates and evenly distributes heat during baking.
The result is a feast for both the eyes and the palate.