Pastry making take 2. It’s true what they say… practice really does make perfect! Close to perfect anyway! I know people say that making pastry is meant to be really difficult, but so far I’ve had no soggy bottoms. It’s actually been quite a good experience! Although, I have only made shortcrust pastry, so maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Filo pastry looks like an absolute nightmare, so maybe I should try that before stating I’m a pastry master.
This week was botanical week and I opted to make a meringue. As it was my first time, I went for a good old classic lemon meringue pie. I’d say it went quite well. I was a bit confused about my lemon curd as it didn’t seem to be thickening as nicely as the recipe suggested. It said the curd should ‘plop’ off the spoon, but mine was more like a leaky tap dripping. Slightly worrying you might think, but as it started to cool it set perfectly. No leaky meringue filling like I’d imagined!
Another point to mention was that I let my meringue crisp in the oven, and didn’t use a blow torch (although I’ve got a new one that I’m dying to use!). I think it gives just the right amount of colour on top but still leaves it looking fluffy on the inside.
I used the BBC Good Food recipe as it had excellent reviews. The recipe was great and produced a meringue that was a little sharp, but was covered up by the sweetness of the meringue on top. You can find the recipe here, or follow my step by step recipe below with photos to help. I’ve changed a few little bits, such as the amount of lemon zest as I only had small lemons. Enjoy! And see you again for dessert week…
For the pastry
175g plain flour
100g cold butter, cut in to cubes
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk
For the lemon curd
2 tbsp cornflour
100g golden caster sugar
finely grated zest 3 lemons
juice 1 small orange
85g butter, cut in to cubes
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
For the meringue
4 egg whites at room temperature
200g golden caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
23cm fluted flan tin (loose bottomed)
Microplane for grating the lemon zest
Electric whisk or mixer
Start by making your pastry. Put the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Then stir in the icing sugar and egg yolk. I used my kMix to combine this fully as it was taking ages by hand!
Put the pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin. Don’t worry if it cracks. Mine did a few times, but it moulds back together easily.
Line your tin and press the pastry in to the flutes. Trim the edges and prick the base with a fork. Line with foil (shiny side down) and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan. Put baking beans in to your foil case and bake blind for 15 minutes.
Then remove the foil and bake for a further 8 minutes pale golden. Set aside and lower the oven to 180°C/160°C fan.
Next on to the lemon curd filling. In a saucepan, mix together the cornflour, sugar and lemon zest.
Strain the lemon juice and gradually stir in. Round the orange juice up to 200ml with water and stir in as well. Place over a medium heat and stir constantly until your mixture becomes smooth and thickens.
Once the mixture bubbles, remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
Beat together the egg yolks and the whole egg. Mix them in to the pan and return to the heat still string constantly.
Keep stirring until the mixture feels thicker. Set aside.
Now on to the meringue. Again, I used my kMix for this which made it a lot quicker! You need to add the egg whites to the bowl and whisk them to form soft peaks.
Then add half of the sugar a spoonful at a time, making sure you whisk in-between. Next whisk in the cornflour, followed by the remaining sugar (again, a spoonful at a time). It should be smooth, thick and glossy. The bowl should feel cold. If you’re brave enough, try tipping the bowl upside-down – the mixture shouldn’t fall out!
Reheat the filling and pour in to your pastry case.
Start by placing spoonfuls of your meringue round the outside of your tart and secure it to the edges of your pastry. This stops it sliding off the edges.
Then spoon the rest of your mixture in the middle to create some height.
And now to make it look pretty… just make a swirl in your meringue.
Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes until the meringue is just colouring.
Leave to sit in the tin for half an hour. Then remove and leave to cool for another hour before slicing.