First, I apologise for the poor quality of this photo. It was after Sunday dinner and I was serving nine people a choice of either baked apples or lemon meringue ( or both if you are Mr OC) and they were anxious to dig in. I felt bad delaying them whilst I tried to get a decent shot. So I gave up and took this one. It doesn’t do the pie justice at all. A lemon meringue is a thing of beauty, a crumbly biscuit base, tangy lemon filling and pillowy meringue – heaven.
I always use Mary Berry’s recipe from her The Aga Book (published by Aga Rayburn) as it is completely fail-safe and makes a very good pie indeed. You can make a biscuit base or you can do a sweet pastry base. Both are good but I think biscuit may just have the slight advantage so this is the one I tell you about here. Now, because I always make this in my Aga I am going to concentrate on telling you this method and then tell you how Delia Smith cooks hers so that you can use this information for whatever oven you have.
These instructions are for a 23cm loose base metal flan tin
175g (6oz) digestive biscuits
50g (2oz) butter, softened
Mary Berry adds 45g (1½ oz) demerara sugar but I don’t think this is necessary so I omit it.
For the filling:
2 large or 3 small lemons
40g (1 ½ oz) cornflour
300ml (½ pint) water
3 egg yolks
75g (3oz) caster sugar
For the meringue:
3 egg whites
120g (4½ oz) caster sugar
For the biscuit base, place the biscuits in a food processor and whizz to crumbs. Add the softened butter and whizz again until combined. If you don’t have a food processor, then place the biscuits into a large plastic food bag and bash with a rolling pin (or similarly heavy implement) until crumbs. Place the crumbs into a bowl. Melt the butter and add to the crumbs and mix well.
Place the crumb mixture into the flan dish and press down with the back of a spoon until it covers the base evenly and goes slightly up the sides of the tin. Place the tin onto a baking sheet and place in the roasting oven of the Aga, or into a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6, for 6 minutes until lightly browned. Leave to one side whilst you make the filling.
For the filling:
Pour the water into a pan and bring to the boil. Place the finely grated zest and the juice of the lemons into a bowl and add the cornflour and stir to blend. Pour in the boiling water and mix well, then return the mixture back to the pan and heat until the mixture thickens. Mix the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl and then add to the cornflour mixture and stir on the heat allowing it to bubble a few times. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool a little before pouring evenly over the biscuit base.
To make the meringue:
Beat the egg whites until forming stiff peaks and then add the sugar one spoonful at a time beating well after each addition. You should have a thick glossy mixture when finished. Spoon this over the top of the filling making little peaks, which will brown nicely and become crunchy, contrasting with the soft meringue underneath.
For the Aga, place the pie (still on the baking sheet) on the grid shelf positioned on the third set of runners of the roasting oven for 2-3 minutes until gently golden. Transfer to the simmering oven for a further 15 minutes. You can serve it warm or cold, it’s delicious either way.
For an ordinary oven Delia recommends preheating the oven to 150°c, gas mark two and cooking at this temperature for 45 minutes.