This is a classic lemon meringue pie, learnt during my days at the Ivy, but in this instance dolled up with a meringue rose on top. The filling is rich, creamy and perfectly smooth, with just the right amount of tartness to balance the sweet meringue on top. The rose is just a flourish of course – if you don’t have the right piping nozzle or feel that life is too short for meringue roses, then your tart will be no less delicious for just dumping the meringue on top and smoothing it out with a spatula.
You will need a 20cm fluted tart tin with a loose base, and a large petal piping nozzle (wilton #125 or similar) with a piping bag. You’ll also need a stand mixer or at least a handheld electric whisk.
For the pastry
- 90g caster sugar
- 95g unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 190g plain flour
- (1 egg, beaten, for glazing the pastry case)
For the filling
- 3 large eggs
- 95ml fresh lemon juice
- 110g caster sugar
- 185ml double cream
For the meringue
- 4 large egg whites
- 250g caster sugar
- To make the pastry, cream the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon, or the paddle attachment on a stand mixer. Once they are smooth and well combined (no need for light and fluffy), beat in the egg, then add the flour all at once. Mix to a smooth paste, then wrap it in cling film and chill for 2-3 hours until firm. Roll it out to a thickness of 2mm, then line your tart ring with it, pressing it down into the corners. Leave it un-trimmed, and return it to the fridge to chill for a further 30 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 180’c fan. Trim the top of the pastry case neatly, then line it with crumpled up baking parchment* and fill it with baking beans*. Blind bake for 20 minutes, then remove the baking beans and parchment, and return it to the oven for 5 minutes, or until the pastry is dry to the touch, and has turned a golden brown all over. Brush it all over with beaten egg to ensure any small cracks are sealed. Allow it to cool on the side.
- Turn the oven down to 100’c. Make the filling by whisking the eggs, cream, sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl. Pass it through a fine sieve into a jug.
- Put the pastry case on a baking tray (just in case there are any spills or leaks, this will save you having the scrub the floor of the oven), then onto the middle shelf of your oven. Carefully pour the filling into the tart case, filling it right up to near the top – you want it as full as you can get it without spilling. You might have a little mix leftover depending on how deep your tin is, so don’t pour it all in if it’s not going to fit. Bake it for approximately 1 hour, by which point it should be just set, but still a little wobbly if you nudge the side of the tin. Depending on your oven, and the depth of your tin, this may take a little less than 1 hour, or a fair bit more – just keep checking it every 15 minutes towards the end of the cooking time. Remove it from the oven, and leave it to cool completely before removing it from the tart tin.
- Make the meringue by putting the sugar and egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sit the bowl over a bain marie, ensuring the base is above, and not touching the boiling water. Whisk the whites and sugar together by hand over the bain marie until it is the temperature of a hot bath. At this point, remove it from the bain marie and whisk it on high speed on the stand mixer, until it is cold – by this point it should be thick, white and hold stiff peaks.
- If you’re making a rose, fit a piping bag with your large petal nozzle, and fill the bag with the meringue. Put the cold lemon tart onto a turn table (not essential but it makes life easier) and begin by putting a small blob of meringue in the centre. Hold your piping bag so that the narrow bit of the nozzle is at the top, then pipe petals around the central blob, building them up as you go, in order to form a rose. There are countless tutorials on Youtube for this if you want to see it done.
- Alternatively, simply spoon the meringue onto the tart, and use the back of the spatula to spread it evenly, or pat it with the spatula to create spikes.
- Use a blow torch to brown the meringue lightly before serving.
*if you scrunch up your baking parchment a few times before using it, it becomes infinitely more malleable, and stops springing back, which means your baking beans can sit more snugly in the corners.
*I prefer to use dry lentils or rice instead of baking beans – not only are they cheaper, they are smaller so will pack out the case more thoroughly. And it’s not a waste as you can re-use them endlessly, I have a tupperware container full of baking lentils I’ve been using for years.