Ultimate lemon meringue pie

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Photo by Shirley Hoy

This delicious dessert is so popular around the world that many countries lay claim to it’s invention. America even has it’s own National Lemon Meringue Pie Day which is celebrated on August 15th.

This recipe by british cook Angela Nilson is everything a good lemon meringue pie should be – a sweet shortcrust pasty shell filled with a tongue tingling lemon custard balanced perfectly with a deliciously creamy sweet meringue topping.

Enjoy as a dessert or a teatime treat



175 g plain flour
100 g cold butter, cut in small pieces
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1 large egg yolk

2 level tablespoons cornflour
100 g golden caster sugar
finely grated zest 2 large lemon
125 ml fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
juice 1 small orange
85 g butter , cut into pieces
3 egg yolks and a 1 whole egg

4 egg whites , room temperature
200 g golden caster sugar
2 level teaspoons cornflour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (opt)


For the pastry, put the flour, butter, icing sugar, egg yolk (save the white for the meringue) and 1 tbsp cold water into a food processor. Using the pulse button so the mix is not overworked, process until the mix starts to bind.

Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface, gather together until smooth, then roll out and line a 23 x 2.5cm loose-bottom fluted flan tin. Trim and neaten the edges. Press pastry into flutes. The pastry is quite rich, so don’t worry if it cracks, just press it back together. Prick the base with a fork, line with foil, shiny side down, and chill for ½ -1 hour (or overnight).

Put a baking sheet in the oven and heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

Fill the case with baking beans and bake in the centre of the oven for 15 mins, then remove the foil and beans, return to the oven and continue to bake for a further 5-8 mins until the pastry is pale golden and cooked. Set aside.

Lower the oven to 180C /fan 160C/gas 4.

While the pastry bakes, prepare the filling: mix the cornflour, sugar and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Strain and stir in the lemon juice gradually. Make orange juice up to 200 ml with water and strain into the pan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth.

Once the mixture bubbles, remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted.

Beat the egg yolks (save white for meringue) and whole egg together, stir into the pan and return to a medium heat. Keep stirring vigorously for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens and plops from the spoon. (It will bubble, but doesn’t curdle.) Take off the heat and set aside while you make the meringue.

Put the egg whites in a large bowl with the cream of tartar if using. Whisk to soft peaks, then add half the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking between each addition without overbeating.

Whisk in the cornflour, then add the rest of the sugar as before until smooth and thick.

Quickly reheat the filling and pour it into the pastry case. Immediately put spoonfuls of meringue around the edge of the filling (if you start in the middle the meringue may sink), then spread so it just touches the pastry (this will anchor it and help stop it sliding).

Pile the rest into the centre, spreading so it touches the surface of the hot filling (and starts to cook), then give it all a swirl.

Return to the oven for 18-20 mins until the meringue is crisp and slightly coloured. Let the pie sit in the tin for 30 mins, then remove and leave until cold before serving.


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