A few days ago I prepared some lemon and lime curd. My ultimate intention was to use it to make lemon (and lime) meringue pie. I had read online that originally lemon meringue pies were made with classic lemon curd and a meringue topping, and this is what I wanted to recreate. In some modern recipes I read, though, in the pie filling some starch is added, so that it hardens more quickly as it bakes. This, mostly because the filling is prepared at the same time as the whole pie is being made, so the curd needs some “help” to thicken properly. Making my curd ahead of time, I didn’t add any thickening agent, also because then the curd would not have been easy to spread later. So I just used a regular curd made of eggs, citrus juice and sugar (oh, and butter), in a way following the original way of preparing this pie. I must admit that the filling of my pie was softer than that of other lemon meringue pies I had tasted, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.
The pie crust is regular shortcrust. To make my tart I used:
- 100 g butter (room temperature)
- 30 g sugar
- 100 g flour
- 1 tbsp water
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix at high speed until large lumps of butter have disappeared and the whole mix resembles grated parmesan. Lower the mixer, add the tbsp of water and mix until the whole mixture thickens and gathers into one large ball. Put in the fridge and refrigerate for about 20 minutes, so that it will be easier to spread. After it has been refrigerated, press dough onto the bottom of a tart pan, making sure to spread it evenly so that the crust will be equally thick all over the pan. Prick crust with a fork so that it will not rise while baking; I punctured it at least 15 times. Put crust into preheated oven at 180°C and bake for about 15-20 min. You should take it out just before it turns golden brown.
In the meantime, you can prepare the meringue. You will need:
- 2 egg whites
- 4 tbsp granulated sugar
Beat the egg whites in a bowl at medium speed. Once fluffy and as soon as soft peaks form, set the mixer on high speed and add the sugar in a slow and gentle stream. Sugar should not be added all at once, or its weight could press some of the air incorporated in the egg whites. Keep mixing at high speed until sugar is incorporated and hard peaks form.
When the crust is just about baked – so it is hard to the touch but still pale in colour – take it out and lower the oven temperature to 150°C. Spread pie filling on hot crust. I filled my pie with lemon and lime curd (recipe linked) that I had prepared a few days in advance and stored in the fridge. Spread the curd evenly over the whole surface of the crust; the amount of it is just perfect to fill one pie. Afterwards, with the help of a spoon, lay meringue on top of the curd and spread it evenly making sure to reach the sides of the crust, so that the curd will be sealed in under the meringue. Finally, gently press the back of the spoon to meringue layer and release in an upward motion in order to create a wavy effect on the top of the meringue. Return pie to the oven, at 150°C, placing it on the top rack. This last passage is meant to cook the meringue and give it the burnt effect that could as well be achieved with a hand burner (which I don’t have). The cooking time now should be about 15 minutes, but keep an eye on it, as the meringue can burn very easily. After 10 minutes I switched the oven to broil and left the pie for 5 more minutes. I took it out as soon as I saw that the upper peaks had turned brown.
I love my new tart pan!! Using pre-made curd, I was able to save some time and the preparation time of this pie was reduced. Even shortcrust base can be made in advance and stored in the fridge. With most passages that can be made ahead of time, this pie is the perfect solution when you have a whole dinner to prepare but also want a freshly baked dessert: once the crust and curd are ready, you just count the time it takes to prepare the meringue and bake the cake, and with very little effort you will serve an all-time classic along with your dinner.
I might double the ingredients of the meringue next time, to have a taller and thicker layer of it, although I must admit that I liked how balanced all the flavours were having it like this.