I know what you’re thinking, ‘lemon meringue pie is a classic, you don’t need to mess around with it.’ But I say a change is as good as a rest so why not try something a little bit different?
This pie still has all the deliciousness of a pillowy cloud of meringue, crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy in the middle but the filling hiding below is a little bit sharper, a little more punchy.
Then there’s the crust. Rich and flaky and crisp with just a touch of thyme to complement all that citrus zing. So delicious!
I usually find 3 egg whites makes enough meringue for this pie but if you want to use more then you can, I’ve listed what you’ll need for each white that you use.
170g plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
100g cold butter
50g icing sugar
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 egg yolk
25 ml of gin or cold water (gin is my secret weapon for crisp pastry)
4 limes (zest and juice) topped up to 200ml with water if you need to
4 egg yolks
175g sugar (you can add a touch more if your limes are really tart)
1 tbsp of butter
meringue (see note above)
for each egg white you use you’ll need:
1/4 tsp cornflour
1/2 tbsp elderflower cordial
Kick things off by making the pastry, which you can either do by hand or in a food processor. Sift together the flour, cornflour and icing sugar, ensuring that they are well blended. Cut the butter into small pieces and then lightly rub this into the flour mixture, until it looks like breadcrumbs. Mix through the thyme.
Beat together the egg yolk and the gin (or water) and use this to bring the dry mixture together to form a nice soft dough, you might not need all of the liquid so add it a bit at a time. If you do need more liquid then add a tiny splash more gin. As always, when making pastry, you want to keep the mixing and handling to the bare minimum so that it doesn’t become tough. Wrap the ball of dough in cling film, flatten it a little and pop it in the fridge for 20 minutes to relax. Grease a pie tin.
After the dough has done relaxing, roll it out so that it is big enough to fill the tin. I do this between pieces of cling film so that I don’t work any extra flour into it but by all means use a lightly floured surface if you prefer that. Line the tin with the pastry, gently pushing it into all the nooks and crannies. Trim away any excess. Recover the pastry case and put it back in the fridge to relax again for 15 minutes whilst the oven pre-heats to 190°c.
Prick the pastry base with a fork and cover it with a piece of grease-proof paper and then pile on some baking beans. Bake the pastry case for 20 minutes, then remove the beans and uncover it before returning it to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Whilst the crust bakes you can make the filling. Mix together the lime juice, zest, sugar, cornflour and water (if needed) in a medium pan. Whisk in the egg yolks and gently heat the mixture. Add the butter and bring the mixture to boiling point, stirring continuously until the filling thickens. Pour the filling into the tart whilst it’s still warm and then leave it to cool.
Now you just need to give the pie its crowning glory, the meringue topping. Pre-heat the oven to 170°c. Whisk however many egg whites you want to use (see note above) until they hold a stiff peak. Add the sugar, cornflour and elderflower cordial (as specified above) and whisk again, until the meringue is smooth and stiff and glossy.
Pile the meringue onto the cooled filling, spreading it out to cover the edges and fluffing it up on top and sprinkle on a little extra sugar. Bake the pie for about 15 minutes, until the topping is crisp and golden. Serve warm or cold.