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What to do with eggs and lemons? Lemon Meringue Tart

November 2, 2013 by sarah

This week I found an egg mountain in my fridge. Well not so much a mountain as I am not sure if you could stack eggs high enough to make a mountain, but a whole box of my girls’ eggs hiding at the back of the fridge. They are starting their annual moult which is when egg production slumps so these eggs are very precious and deserving of a fitting baking project.

I am not a fruit pie girl. I suppose it stems from my innate fear of pastry, which I am slowly over coming, and lack of tummy space for a desert after dinner but why should pie be restricted to a particular time of day. In fact, I have enjoyed it for breakfast for several days and though I am sure it would not be good for one to do this on a regular basis, it does have a naughty twinkle-in-the-eye element! And it contains eggs and fruit, what is more healthy than that!

Lemon Meringue Tart
Recipe from ‘The Great British Book of Baking’ (BBC Books)
 
For the sweet shortcrust pastry
  • 175g plain flour
  • 115g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • a good pinch of salt
  • 1 medium egg yolk, with 2 tablespoons ice-cold water
For the lemon filling
  • 3 medium unwaxed lemons
  • 40g cornflour
  • 300ml water
  • 3 medium egg yolks
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter, diced
For the meringue topping
  • 4 medium egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar
A 22cm loose-based deep flan tin.
 
Make the pastry by rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks like bread crumbs. Using a round-tipped knife, mix in the egg yolk mixture. Knead for a minimal time to bring together. Wrap this in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and then use to line the flan tin. Prick the base with a fork and put in the freezer for 15 minutes while the oven heats to fan 170. I like to leave a little extra pastry all around the edge to account for shrinkage and then trim this off after the first part of the blind bake as you remove the baking beans.
Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Heston (de Blummental) likes to use copper coins for this but I’ve never tried this way as I have the beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and trim the edge and return to the oven for another 5 minutes, take out and leave to cool. Do NOT over cook the pastry as it will turn burnt and bitter and it will be getting further baking anyway.
 
Make the filling by grating the zest of the lemons into a heatproof bowl, adding the lemon juice and cornflour, stirring until a smooth paste is formed. In a pan bring the water to a boil then pour it over the lemon mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When thoroughly combined, tip all the mixture back into the pan and put on the heat, stirring constantly until it boils and thickens. Reduce the heat to a simmer and keep stirring for another minute. Remove from the heat and quickly beat in the egg yolks then the sugar and butter. Leave to cool.
 
Make the meringue topping by whisking the egg whites until soft peaks and then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until it is well dissolved and the resulting mixture is glossy and stiff.
 
Fill the pie by spreading the lemon mixture over the pastry case then topping with the meringue, making sure the meringue goes all the way to pastry edges. Stand the tart on a hot baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes. Leave to cool to room temperature before unmoulding and serving but eat the same day other wise the meringue will weep and liquid will come out of your tart/pie. From searching online, this is a common problem and there doesn’t seem to be any sure way of avoiding it except by eating the pie straight away. No excuse needed!
 
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