Recipe from the cookbook ‘Recipes From My Mother’ by Rachel Allen
Recipe published in Feast, Issue 14 – March 2017
Serves Four – Six
225g of plain flour
½ tbsp of caster sugar
170g of butter, chilled and diced
1 egg yolk, beaten with 2tbsp of water
110g of butter
170g of caster sugar
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
3 eggs, beaten
For the meringue
3 egg whites
150g of caster sugar
First make the pastry. Place the flour and the sugar in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. If the butter is really cold, you can grate it in for easier rubbing in.
Add half the beaten egg yolk and water and, using your hands, bring the pastry together. If it is too dry to come together, add a little more until it does. Do not knead it, but shape it into a round, 2cm (1in) thick, using your hands to flatten it. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours (it can also be frozen for up to three months).
Alternatively, if you are making the pastry in a food processor, blitz the flour, sugar and the butter cubes. Whiz for a few seconds, then add half the beaten egg yolk and water and continue whizzing for just a second or two until it starts to come together. You might need to add a little more egg, but don’t add too much, and don’t overprocess the pastry otherwise it will be tough and heavy.
If you have any egg yolk and water left over, reserve it for brushing over the pastry at the end of the blind baking. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF), Gas mark 4.
You will need a 23cm (9in) metal tart tin with removable sides. Take the pastry out of the fridge and place between 2 sheets (larger than your tart tin) of cling film. Using a rolling pin, roll it out until it is 3mm (1⁄8in) thick. Make sure to keep it round, if the tin is round, and large enough to line the base and sides of the tin.
Removing just the top layer of cling film, place the pastry upside down (cling film side facing up) into the tart tin (no need to flour or grease the tin). Press the pastry into the edges, cling film still attached and, using your thumb, ‘cut’ the pastry on the edge of the tin. It should look quite neat. If there are any holes or gaps, patch them with some spare pastry. Remove the cling film and chill the pastry in the fridge for 15 minutes or even in the freezer for 5 minutes (it will keep for weeks in the freezer, if covered well).
Bake blind by lining the pastry with baking parchment when chilled (leaving plenty of paper to come up the sides), fill with baking beans or dried pulses and bake for 20–25 minutes in the oven until the pastry feels just dry to the touch on the base. Remove the paper and beans, brush with a little left over beaten egg yolk and water (or a bit of new beaten egg if there’s none of the yolk and water left-over) and return to the oven for 3 minutes. Again, if there are any little holes or cracks in the pastry, just patch it up with any leftover raw pastry as the filling will leak out of these in the oven if not patched up. Once the pastry is baked blind, take out of the oven and set the pastry aside in the tin to cool. This can be easily made a day in advance and covered until you need it. Leave the oven on at the same temperature.
To make the lemon curd, over a very low heat melt the butter with the sugar, lemon zest and the juice (that you’ve poured through a sieve). Add the beaten eggs and stir carefully over a low heat until the mixture has thickened and will coat the back of a spoon, holding the mark that your finger makes when your draw a line through it. Take off the heat and pour into a bowl to cool. Place the cooled lemon curd into the cooled pastry shell and set aside.
Next, make the meringue. Place the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and, using an electric whisk, beat them until they start to hold stiff peaks. Next add 1 tablespoon of the sugar and continue to whisk until stiff, then fold in the remaining sugar. Spread the meringue over the lemon curd to fill the tart tin, using the back of a spoon to lift up little snowy meringue peaks all over the top.
Place the pie in the oven and bake for 10 minutes until deep golden on top.
Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes before removing carefully from the tin and transferring to a serving plate. Cut into slices to serve.