Cucina Popolare's Incredible Lemon Meringue Pie

"‘If it’s not big, it's not big enough’ is one of our mottos, so now you know why our meringue stands 20 cm/8 inches high…"

This recipe is extracted from Big Mamma Cucina Popolare: Contemporary Italian Recipes (Phaidon Press). Photography ©

For the pastry (pie dough)

  • 90 g/3.25oz (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 20 g/0.75 oz (scant 3 and 1/2 tablespoons) ground almonds (almond meal)
  • 50 g/1.75oz (generous 1/3  cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • 2 large (US extra large) eggs
  • 150 g/5 oz (1 and 1/4 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the lemon custard

  • 1 leaf (sheet) gelatine
  • 3 unwaxed lemons
  • 3 eggs
  • 70 g/2.5 oz (1/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 140 g/5 oz (1 and 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter

For the Italian meringue

  • 230 g/8 oz (scant 1 and 1/4 cups) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 egg whites

Method for the Lemon Meringue Pie 

  1. Make the pastry. In a bowl, soften the butter with a spatula. In a mixer with a paddle (flat beater) attachment, beat the softened butter, ground almonds (almond meal) and icing (confectioners’) sugar until smooth. Then add the eggs, one at a time, while beating. Incorporate the flour and salt. Mix the pastry dough until crumbly. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and rest overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Make the lemon custard. Soften the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Zest two of the lemons and squeeze all three. In a bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Combine the lemon juice, sugar and butter in a pan and bring to the boil. Gradually add the eggs, incorporating with a whisk. Cook over a low heat until the mixture comes to a gentle boil.
  3. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Squeeze the gelatine and incorporate. Add the lemon zest. Use an immersion blender to mix well. Put into an airtight container and rest overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4). Roll out the pastry dough into a 6-mm/1/4-inch-thick disc. Grease a tart pan with butter and line with the pastry. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Make the Italian meringue. Dissolve the sugar into 2 tablespoons of water and the lemon juice in a pan over a low heat. Bring to the boil and cook until the mixture reads 120°C/250°F on a cooking thermometer. If you don’t have a cooking thermometer, put a little of the syrup in a spoon and let one drop fall into a glass of cold water. If it forms a small, soft ball, the syrup is ready. In a grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Pour the syrup in a thin stream into the meringue while whisking until the mixture cools.
  6. Fill the pastry case (shell) with the lemon custard. Use a plastic spatula to cover the tart with meringue, creating a dome in the centre. Caramelize with a chef's blowtorch. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024


  • Hi Claire, thank you for your question! Agar Agar is typically a good gelatine substitute so we would suggest that. However, we have not tested it ourselves. If you do try it out, please let us know how you get on. Thanks, Helena.

    Helena @ Sous Chef on

  • Could you use a vegetarian alternative to the gelatine?

    Claire on

  • Hi Barbara, the pastry for this recipe has a similar quantity to some of the other tart recipes on our website which use a 20-23cm tart pan. So we would recommend one of those for this, depending on the thickness of your pastry crust. Let us know how you get on if you make this! Thanks, Helena

    Helena @ Sous Chef on

  • Hi, two questions please:
    Could this marvel be made in a tart pan? I’m not sure of the size of a tart pan and I don’t know what pastry case/shell is either,
    thank you

    barbara on

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