Today's Post is brought to you by Judy-May, and the letter 'L'.
Lemon Meringue Pie.
Hello. I’m Judy-May and I love Lemon Meringue. My Gran used to make it for Dad and now so do I.
My recipe comes from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
I use their Key Lime Pie biscuit base for the pie crust as I am far to lazy to make my own pie dough and sometimes I can’t be bothered zesting so I replace some zest with lemon essence, but shh! I don’t want anyone to clue on.
Ok so here we go.
You will need:
500g Milk Coffee (or digestive) biscuits.
200g (I sometimes use more) unsalted butter. Melted
8 lemons zested and juiced for all they are worth!
2 tins of condensed milk. 397g is the recommended but I get 400g because that’s what the supermarket sells.
8 egg yolks.
6 egg whites
300g castor sugar
Before you get too excited about making this pie tonight it’s best if you make it in stages over 2 days. By that I mean bake your base, let it cool. Fill and cook, leave over night yada yada yada.
Stage one. The Base!
I love this stage! It’s my favourite part because I bash my biscuits! You can food process them until they are nice and crumbly then add the melted butter and whiz them again until it combines, but where is the fun? So I bash the biscuits with my rolling pin in an Elmo lunch bag.
Start by preheating the oven to 170C or 350F if your oven is as old as mine.
Melt your butter.
Now put 5 or so biscuits in the bag and zip lock it and bash away! Repeat until all biscuits are crumbly like crumbs.
Stir through the melted butter to make the crumbly crumbs stick together. Eat some if you like, it’s quite tasty and no one is looking.
Now put a third of your biscuity yumminess into your pie dish.
Use a glass or the ball of your hand to press the biscuit into a thick layer along the bottom and up the sides. Aim for at least 1 finger width, 2 if your fingers are skinny. Add more biscuit as necessary. Never mind the leftovers it keeps well and is good for a cheesecake base later in the week.
Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until it looks deliciously golden and crunchy.
Leave it alone for a good long while, like a sulking teen that has broken their iPhone. It needs to cool down. Go out for a coffee, you deserve it after all you just bashed a lot of biscuits.
Stage Two. Filling.
I hate stage two because I have to zest lemons. I hate zesting. But I love the result so I make my peace and move on.
Preheat the oven to 150C.
I start by separating my eggs. I put the yolks into one bowl and the whites into another. I’m so clever.
“But there are two extra whites Judy-May!” I know. Put them in a different container we can talk about them overnight.
Once that’s done I empty both tins of condensed milk into the bowl with the yolks and sigh because I now have to zest.
I prefer to zest at the dining table where I can sit down and not hunch over the kitchen bench (I’m tallish). So I take my zester and my bowl and all the lemons to the table and sit down and watch some MacGyver while I zest.
Yay zesting done! Ok so here’s my little cheat taking from the advice of the joy of baking and I have only done it on occasion when the lemon zest looks particularly dicey. 1 tsp of zest = 1/2 tsp of essence. Ah! But how much zest in a lemon? About 1 tbs. So how much essence? 1.5 tsp essence per lemon. Because there are 3 tsp to every tbs and you need half that. See.
Ok juice the lemons and then stir. They say to use a whisk but mine broke so I use a spoon. Stir until everything looks combined and the colour of shortbread cooked perfectly.
Pour your yummy filling into your yummy biscuit crust and bake for 20 mins.
Once this is done it is best to leave it to cool over night.
Aside: Those extra egg whites make a great omelette for breakfast or can be used to make French toast (yum!). Or you can stir it into the dog’s food, they love it!
Stage Three. Meringue
Stage three can break your heart. Seriously, it’s heart wrenching but when you get it right it’s brilliant.
Pull your egg whites out of the fridge and let them get to room temperature. I don’t know why but it helps.
Preheat your oven to 150C again.
Measure your sugar on a very clean scale or in a clean bowl.
Beat the egg whites until they are foamy like a carbonated beverage head.
Add the sugar in stages, 2 tbs at a time beating for about a minute between each load.
Once you’ve added all the sugar beat the living daylights out of those whites! They need to be beaten until they are silky and smooth and form nice stiff peaks.
This is the part that will break your heart. You’ll look at those whites and think that they’ll never stiffen, and sometimes they won’t. Persevere. If you used clean utensils (don’t get anything other than the sugar in there, it’ll flatten those whites faster than a steam roller) and room temp whites, it’ll happen. And the relief when it does.
Bake in the oven until the meringue is golden and lovely! I like to look for little cracks in the top.
Allow to cool. Celebrate the destination you have reached with a glass of pinot gris or other beverage.
This is a super sweet dish, not for the faint of heart.
I hope you enjoy!