“I’ve tried making all kinds of meringue pies – rhubarb and grapefruit have both made the grade – but there is something about the acidic tang of citrus that just can’t be beaten,” explains chef and restaurateur, Gizzi Erskine.
“Lemon by itself tastes great, but in balancing the lemon with some orange and lime, you get a sherbet-style finish, like eating the perfect sour sweets. This is still lemon meringue pie but with added va-va-voom.”
Lemon sherbet meringue pie
For the pastry:
- 225 g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 170 g ice-cold butter cut into small cubes
- 1 egg whisked with 1tsp ice-cold water
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
For the filling:
- 300 ml lemon juice
- 100 ml lime juice
- 100 ml orange or tangerine juice
- 50 ml water
- 240 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Zest of 1 grapefruit
- 4 tbsp cornflour
- 100 ml gin
- 170 g butter
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 eggs
For the meringue:
- 350 g golden caster sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- First, make the pastry. Place the flour in a food processor with the salt and sugar and whizz for a few seconds. Add the butter, and whizz again for about 20 seconds, or until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Turn out into a fridge-cold mixing bowl, and with a cold knife, slowly add enough of the whisked egg and water to bind the mixture together, being careful not to make the dough too wet.
- Bind the pastry into a ball. Kneading will make it tough, so try to handle it as little as possible. Lay the pastry on a baking sheet and roll out to flatten a little. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes or until needed.
- Once you are ready to make the pie, preheat the oven to 190˚C/170˚C/gas mark 5. Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the pastry until it’s the thickness of a 50p piece. Very carefully line a 24cm deep tart tin. Let the pastry overhang the edge of the tart dish so you can trim it once it has been blind baked. Place the lined tin in the freezer for 10 minutes and then line the raw pastry with greaseproof paper filled with baking beans and blind bake it for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, take out the baking beans and greaseproof paper and pop it back for a further 10 minutes. Take out and leave to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 140˚C/120˚C/gas mark 1. When the pastry is cool, carefully trim the pastry edges away with a knife, carving off the excess against the side of the tin, then brush away any crumbs with a pastry brush.
- While the pastry bakes, prepare the filling. Put the juices, water, sugar, salt and zest in a pan and bring to the boil. Mix the cornflour with the gin to form a smooth paste and whisk this into the juice mixture. Keep whisking and it will start to thicken. Lower the heat and add the butter, whisking until it has all melted. Now take the pan off the heat and stir in the eggs, beating furiously until you have a lovely smooth consistency. Leave to rest covered with some cling film touching the surface of the sherbet curd, to stop a skin forming while you wait for the base to bake and cool.
- When ready to fill the tart, sieve the filling into the tart case to ensure a perfectly silky consistency. Level it out carefully with a spatula and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
- To make the meringue, place the sugar in a saucepan and add four tablespoons of water and the vanilla. Turn on the heat and bring to the boil until the sugar is melted, but do not stir as this will crystallise the sugar syrup. Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks so they fall down on themselves, and keeping the whisk going, slowly pour in the sugar syrup until it is all incorporated.
- With a metal spoon, top the tart with the meringue, creating lovely peaks as you go. Turn the oven up to 180˚C/160˚C fan/gas mark 4 and cook the pie for 10 minutes until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for an hour before serving.
Slow by Gizzi Erskine, photography Issy Croker, is published by HQ.
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