This week my flatmate arrived home with 5 beautiful lemons for the ridiculously low price of 49p. Cooking is a pretty expensive habit for a student, especially as I am a total food snob, and wouldn’t dream of skimping on ingredients (I would rather go without everything else), so when life gives you cheap lemons, make lemon meringue pie.
Having spent the summer making preserves I definitely wasn’t prepared to cheat and use shop bought lemon curd. So, having not made lemon meringue pie in years, I did some research and decided upon a recipe by Angela Nilsen, which I adapted slightly (as I can never play by the rules!) I did want to use a recipe from Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to Bake’ as it is an amazing book, and his recipes have not failed me yet. But his recipe requires a dozen eggs which is pretty excessive in comparison to the five Angela Nilsen uses.
Lemon Meringue Pie.
For the sweet shortcrust pastry;
175g/6oz plain flour
100g /3.5 oz cold butter , cut in small pieces
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk
For the lemon curd;
100g caster sugar
finely grated zest 3 large lemons
125ml fresh lemon juice, sieved to remove all pips and pith
85g butter , cubed
2 tbsp cornflour
3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
For the meringue;
4 egg whites
200g caster sugar
2 level tsp cornflour
1) Place the flour, butter, egg yolk, icing sugar and 1 tbsp of water in a food processor and blitz until it forms a dough. Place in a sandwich bag, or wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for a minimum of an hour (this can be done the day before).
2) Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Roll out your pastry so it is just thicker than a ten pence piece, and cover a 22inch loose bottom pie dish. Prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork and place greaseproof paper on the top, fill with baking beans (or rice/dry pasta) and bake blind for 15 minutes. After these 15 minutes, remove the greaseproof paper and bake for a further five minutes to make the base a light golden colour, but not too cooked. You can trim the pastry before you cook it, or cook it and then trim it. I am yet to decide which method I prefer, if you have a good quality sharply fluted tin, you can trim afterwards.
3) In the meantime, place the lemon zest, cornflour and sugar in a saucepan.Add water to the fresh lemon juice to make the mixture up to 250ml and pour into the saucepan. Place on a moderate heat and stir until the mixture thickens.Remove from the heat once thickened and beat in the cubed butter. Then, one at a time, the egg yolks and the whole egg, until you have a smooth mixture. Return to the heat and mix until thick and sliding off of the spoon. Take of the heat.
4) Now your lemon curd is made, and your pastry case is baked, start on the meringue. Place the egg whites in a glass bowl, ensure your bowl is very clean and grease free. Avoid using plastic bowls as no matter how well you clean them, greasy residue will be left behind and this could hinder your meringues. Using an electric whisk, beat your eggs until they reach soft peaks, then, add the caster sugar in one tablespoon at a time, whisking whilst you do this. Once you have added half of the sugar add the cornflour, and continue the sugar adding process until all has gone and your left with glossy, hard peaks.
5) Reheat the lemon curd, so it is easier to pour, then pour on top of your pastry base. Spoon the meringue on the top, starting from the outside in, working quickly so the meringue doesn’t melt under the heat of the lemon curd. You could pipe on the meringue, I prefer to just spoon the mixture on and using the back of a metal spoon, shaping the meringue to form fluffy peaks.
6) Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes, until the meringue has a golden colour, leave to cool in the tin. I believe lemon meringue pie is best served cool.
I was perusing twitter whilst waiting for my lemon meringue pie to cool, and came across Nigella Lawson’s recipe of the day tweet, it just so happened to be a lemon meringue cake. Being the baking nerd that I am I tweeted a picture of my pie to her saying I wished I had made a lemon meringue cake instead, and she messaged me back…this of course was a highlight of my life. I promise next week I will try bake something without tweeting!
This week I also found a beautiful new Edinburgh cafe, that I will definitely be frequenting on a regular basis, called ‘Lovecrumbs’. It’s pretty much how I would have my own cafe; hardwood floors, mis-matched furniture and lots of vintage china. Not only was it beautifully decorated and serenely quiet, it served fantastic tea made with home-made tea bags and the selection of cakes was overwhelming. I went for the pumpkin and chocolate chip bundt cake, which was an excellent choice, although I will be returning to try out the other choices (for blog research purposes only). The greatest thing about this cafe was undoubtedly the fact that the cakes were stored in a big, mahogany dresser, I wish my wardrobe at home had a cake on every shelf.
Lovecrumbs cafe is at 155 west port, a little bit further up from the grassmarket when you’re headed to lothian road.