"‘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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.