Corner Café

April 25, 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie (with Failed Italian Meringue)

Filed under: Pies, Tarts & other Pastries — SeaDragon @ 6:39 pm
Tags: , ,
Lemon_Meringue_Pie 04

Well, I suppose recipe blogging is not just about sharing successful recipes, but also about the trial and error of unsuccessful attempts as well so we can all learn from the mistakes we make. So here’s my 2/3 successful Lemon Meringue Pie. No, your eyes did not deceive you, the brown meringue was supposed to be my Italian meringue. However my sugar syrup went tra-la-la, I was too quick for you and turned into a caramel…
This is the second time I’ve attempted to make a Lemon Meringue Pie. The first time I made it a couple of years ago, the pie crust shrank and the meringue wept, so it was a complete disaster!
This time I decided to use an Italian meringue instead of a normal meringue to see if I could prevent the meringue from weeping again since the egg whites would be cooked during the beating process. Of course I’ve never made an Italian meringue before, so I thought it was time I tried it out here for my pie, to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. Well it all went pear-shaped because I did not keep a stern eye on the thermometer and the sugar overcooked and became a caramel! I think I was also too impatient and had the heat too high, so it turned pretty quickly when it did. So my Italian meringue became a caramel meringue instead. But this time the pie crust was a big success and the lemon custard was tangy and delicious, so it was a big improvement from last time at the very least.
Lemon_Meringue_Pie 05

Makes one 24cm pie

Shortcrust Pastry:
150g (1 cup) plain flour
75g (1/2 cup) self-raising flour
20g (1 tablespoon) caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
55g butter *, cubed
55g lard or ghee *, cubed
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2-1 tablespoon water, as necessary

* Have butter and lard really cold in hot weather, or at room temperature in cold weather.

Lemon Custard:
60g cornflour
200g white granulated sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) lemon juice, from about 3 lemons
310ml (1 1/4 cups) water
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
3 egg yolks
60g butter, cubed

Italian Meringue:
3 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
150g white granulated sugar
100ml water (note to self, took too long to cook, can reduce water to 75ml next time)
Shortcrust Pastry:
1. Combine, plain flour, self-raising flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl.
2. Rub butter and lard into the flour mixture using your fingertips until the mixture resemble breadcrumbs.
3. Gradually pour lightly beaten egg into the flour mixture. Cut through the mixture with a bread knife as you pour. Once the mixture starts to cling together, use your hand to press together into a dough. Try not to knead too much if you can. If the mixture is still too dry and does not form into a dough, add a little bit water to bind. Wrap the dough with cling film and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
4. Remove dough from the refrigerator and let it become pliable again before rolling out.
5. Roll out the pastry dough to about 4mm thick, or large enough to fit a 24cm pie dish (I used Pyrex glass pie dish). Flour rolling pin and drape pastry around the pin. Lift over the pie dish, allowing pastry to extend equally over the sides. Let pastry slip off the rolling pin and settle into the dish.
6. With floured hands, gently press pastry on to the base and into the bottom corners of the dish. Ease the pastry into the sides with your index finger. Trim off excess pastry on top.
7. Prick all over the base of the pastry with the tines of a fork. Cover the pastry and place into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill before blind baking. In the meantime, preheat oven to 180°C.
8. Remove pastry from the refrigerator. Cut a round of baking paper big enough to fit base and sides of the lined pie dish. Put in dry beans (or baking weights) to come nearly level with top of pastry. Cook for 15 minutes, or until sides are slightly crisp. This is called blind baking.
9. Remove dish from the oven. Lift beans out with the baking paper (keep beans for future blind baking use).
10. Return pie dish to the oven for a further 15 minutes, or until a pale golden colour and crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool before lifting out of the dish. Store in airtight container until ready to use.
Lemon_Meringue_Pie 02

Lemon Custard:
1. Combine cornflour and sugar in a saucepan.
2. Gradually add in lemon juice and water, whisking to dissolve any lumps.
3. Stir or whisk the mixture over moderate to high heat, until it boils and thickens like glue, about 4 minutes.
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 seconds.
5. Remove from heat, stir in grated lemon rind. Whisk in egg yolks, one at a time. Lastly whisk in cubed butter until thoroughly dissolved and the custard is smooth.
6. Let cool over an ice-cold water bath, give it a whisk occasionally. When it reaches room temperature, cover the surface with a piece of cling film and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Lemon_Meringue_Pie 01

Italian Meringue:
1. Place egg whites and salt in large bowl of electric mixer.
2. Combine sugar and water in a medium heavy based saucepan. Stir over low heat, without boiling, to dissolve sugar. Brush down sides of pan with wet pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals. Simmer, uncovered, without stirring, until mixture reaches firm ball stage (119-121°C) on a sugar thermometer (if you don’t have a sugar thermometer, a teaspoon of mixture will form a firm ball when dropped in a cup of cold water when temperature is reached).
3. Just before sugar reaches temperature, begin to beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. With motor running, gradually pour sugar mixture onto egg whites until fully incorporated.

To assemble:
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Spread lemon custard into pastry case.
Lemon_Meringue_Pie 03
2. Top with meringue (need to spread to the edges of the pastry to seal if using normal meringue). Bake 5 to 8 minutes, or until meringue is browned lightly. Stand 5 minutes before serving.

Texture: Tangy & sweet
Consume: Best within 24 hours
Storage: Under a covered cake dome
Recipe References: ‘Lemon Meringue Pie’ recipe from The Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook, ‘Cook’, & another recipe from AWW, Lemon Meringue Pie


  1. seadragon,

    if you want to save some time, you can try using French meringue. The ratio of egg whites to sugar is 1:1-2 The sugar is 1/2 granulated sugar and 1/2 powdered sugar (the cornstarch in the powdered sugar will also help stabilize the meringue). Whip the egg whites until soft peaks, gradually add the sugars, and whip until stiff peaks. Have fun!

    Comment by tt — April 28, 2008 @ 6:03 pm | Reply

  2. tt,
    Thanks, I’ve never used powdered sugar to make meringue before, will definitely try that next time 🙂

    Comment by SeaDragon — April 29, 2008 @ 8:17 pm | Reply

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