Finding the time to cook, bake and blog is difficult at the moment, as besides work I’ve also started rehearsals three times a week for a local musical which will be on in a few months. So things are busy at the moment, but it is a good busy and I’m so happy to be singing and rehearsing for a show again, after over a year off the stage.
I did however find time to give the Week 2 Great Australian Bake Off technical challenge a go. Lemon Meringue Pie is one of my favourites, but also one of the desserts I am often most disappointed in when I buy them at restaurants or bakeries as I usually find them too sweet with not enough of the tart lemon flavour, so I was interested to give this recipe a try.
I have to admit that in my rush, I didn’t read the recipe correctly and started making the curd filling in a completely different way to the suggested method. However, it still worked and the end result was a set curd filling. So the method here is what I did, not what was recommended in the original recipe (which you can find here). I also had to add extra lemon zest to increase the citrus flavour and even then the filling was a bit too sweet for me.
I managed to complete the dessert in less than 2 hours (which I think is the time the contestants had). If you have more time, I would suggest letting the pastry chill longer before baking in the oven, as I found it shrank back a lot with only a 5 minute resting time.
I’m looking forward to the next technical challenge – brandy snaps. I’ve always meant to give them a try but have just never gotten around to it.
GABO Lemon Meringue Pie
Serves 8 – 10
You will need a 22 – 23cm loose based tin and a baking tray.
- 2 eggs
- 4 egg yolks (keep the whites separate for the meringue)
- 1 ¼ cups caster sugar
- Zest and juice of 4 lemons (I found I needed more zest)
- 150g unsalted butter – diced
- 1/3 cup cornflour – dissolved in 3-4 tablespoons of cold water
- 150g plain flour (plus extra for dusting when rolling)
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of caster sugar
- 90g cold unsalted butter – diced
- 1 egg – lightly beaten
- 1-2 teaspoons cold milk
- An extra egg – beaten to use as an egg wash
- 4 egg whites
- A pinch of salt
- 1 cup of caster sugar
- To make the lemon curd I started by using a bain-marie method (saucepan with simmering water, and a bowl over the water but not touching) first before then transferring the mixture to a saucepan to finish.
- Whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar in a medium heat proof bowl and then add the lemon zest, juice and butter. Place the bowl over a saucepan with simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bowl) and continue to stir until the butter has melted and everything is combined. Transfer to a medium sized saucepan and add the cornflour mix. Place over a low heat and continue to stir until the mixture is glossy and has thickened. This will take quite a while so be patient.
- Once thick, transfer to a clean bowl, cover and chill until needed.
- Preheat your oven to 160C fan forced (180C). To make the pastry, place the flour, salt, sugar and butter into a food processor and process until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (you could also do this by hand). Add the egg and 1 teaspoon of milk and process. If it doesn’t come together add the second teaspoon of milk. Process until it comes together to form a dough. Bring the dough together into a ball by hand, flatten and then wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge for 15 – 30 minutes.
- Once the pastry has chilled/rested, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll out to 3-5mm thick to fit the tin. Allow for an extra overhang, as I found this pastry shrank more than the usual recipe I work with.
- Line the tin with the pastry and chill in the freezer for at least 5 minutes (would recommend longer if you can). Once chilled, remove and gently prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork. Cover with baking paper and fill with baking beans, dried beans or rice. You need to use quite a lot of beans here – my one jar of beans wasn’t enough and if I make this again I would a lot more.
- Bake the pastry for 30 minutes and then remove the baking beans and paper. Brush the pastry with egg wash (to seal for the filling) and then return it to the oven and bake for a further 5 – 10 minutes, until the base is dry and slightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. You could take the pastry out of the tin at this stage, however I kept it in the tin until after it was finally cooked and had chilled in the fridge.
Assembly & meringue
- Once the pastry has cooled, fill it with the lemon curd.
- To make the meringue, place the egg whites and a pinch of salt into the clean bowl of a stand mix (or in a clean bowl and use electric beater). You want to ensure there is no dirt/oil in the bowl or egg yolk in the whites or it won’t whisk properly.
- Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer (or electric beater), whisk until the egg whites form soft peaks. Then start adding the sugar, a little at a time while still whisking, until the mix is smooth, glossy and holds its shape. If you put some of the mix on a finger and rub it, you shouldn’t be able to feel the sugar crystals.
- Spoon the meringue over the curd filling and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the meringue is golden. Allow to cool completely in the fridge before serving.
Adapted from The Great Australian Bake off – Lemon Meringue Pie