I love the tangy sweet smell of citrus fruits and jump at the opportunity to take a bag of lemons home whenever the tree at my Mum’s house is in season – and what a season it has been, for the second weekend in a row I made Donna Hay’s lemon meringue pie because, well, LEMONS. The first time for my Mum on Mother’s Day and the second for friends who came for dinner. There is no good reason for wasting such glorious citrus, especially when they taste this good!
It’s the gift of the curd that makes this dessert so memorable – thick, perfectly set lemon curd that sits perfectly between the balancing act of sweet and sour, that amazing zing that makes my mouth water and my guests calm. Then there’s the magic of the generously sized Italian meringue which rests gloriously (maybe even a little pompously) on top – the perfect density and sweetness only further compliments, and indeed showcases, the zest and tang residing one level below. I mean really, what’s not to love?
I considered whether I adapt this recipe, really make it my own, but after two trials with zero customer complaints or leftovers, I decided that sharing is caring. So thank you Donna Hay, your lemon meringue pie recipe has earned you a permanent spot at our dinner table.
This showstopper of a dessert can be prepared earlier than your guests arrive, left in the fridge until you’re ready to quickly whip together your Italian meringue and torch at the table for a bit of extra magic…dessert perfection.
1½ cups (225gm) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
½ cup (80gm) icing (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted
125gm unsalted butter, chilled and chopped
2 egg yolks
1 Tbs iced water
1½ cups (375ml) milk
1 cup (220gm) caster (superfine) sugar
⅓ cup (50g) cornflour (cornstarch)
80gm unsalted butter, chopped
⅔ cup (160ml) lemon juice
2 Tbs finely grated lemon rind
6 egg yolks
¾ cup (220gm) caster (superfine) sugar
¼ cup (60ml) water
¼ tsp cream of tartar
2 eggwhites, at room temperature
- To make the sweet shortcrust pastry, place the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the motor running, add the egg yolks and iced water and process until the dough just comes together.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently bring together to form a ball. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Roll the pastry out between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper to 5mm-thick. Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F). Line a 18cm (1 litre-capacity) pie tin with the pastry, trim the edges and prick the base with a fork. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until firm.
- Line the pastry case with non-stick baking paper and fill with uncooked rice or baking weights. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the paper and weights and bake for a further 20 minutes or until the pastry is light golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- To make the lemon filling, place 1 cup (250ml) of the milk and the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil.
- Place the cornflour and remaining milk in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pour into the milk and sugar mixture and whisk to combine. Add the butter and whisk until melted and combined.
- Add the lemon juice, lemon rind and egg yolks and cook, whisking continuously, for 3–4 minutes or until thickened. Pour the lemon mixture immediately into the pastry shell, smooth the top with a spatula and refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.
- To make the meringue icing, place the sugar, water and cream of tartar in a small saucepan over high heat and stir with a metal spoon until just combined. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 3 minutes.
- Place the eggwhites in an electric mixer and whisk until soft peaks form. While the motor is running, add the sugar mixture in a thin and steady stream and whisk for 1–2 minutes or until thick and glossy.
- Spoon the meringue over the lemon filling and grill under a preheated hot grill for 30–60 seconds or use a Chef’s torch to lightly brown the meringue peaks until golden.
*Recipe sourced from Donna Hay