Luscious lemon meringue pie

ALWAYS IN FASHION: Lemon meringue pie has a history of success in the Holst family.
ALWAYS IN FASHION: Lemon meringue pie has a history of success in the Holst family.

Lemon meringue pie never goes out of fashion. Alison's mother used to make it for Sunday dinner dessert when Alison was a student, when Peter (now her husband of 40-plus years) biked from the other side of the city, then climbed a steep hill, to visit. Who knows – if his favourite dessert had not been on the menu regularly, he might have stopped coming!

Lemon meringue pie

Makes a 20-centimetre pie.

1 sheet pre-rolled short pastry (or make your own, see below)

1 cup sugar

rind and juice of 2 lemons

1/2 cup cornflour or custard powder

1 1/2 cups water

2 Tbsp butter

3 large egg yolks

3 large egg whites

pinch of salt

1/2 cup castor sugar

Heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius, then make and cook the pastry shell. Roll the pastry out enough so it will easily cover an upturned, 20cm-diameter, metal pie plate. Trim, dampen and fold back the edges and prick the shell all over, so it will not puff up as it bakes (still upside down) for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Take out the shell, cool it, then lift it carefully off the tin and stand it right way up in a bigger pie plate.

To make the filling, process the sugar and the lemon zest (peeled with a floating blade peeler). If you earlier used the food processor to make the pastry, you don't need to wash it.

Add cornflour or custard powder and the water, process to mix, then transfer the mixture to a microwave-proof bowl. Microwave at full power, stirring every one or two minutes, until it is clear and evenly thick.

Stir in the butter and egg yolks, heat again, just until the filling bubbles and thickens, then stir in the lemon juice. Do not heat again. Pour the hot filling into the shell.

Using a beater, beat the egg whites and salt until they form peaks that turn over at the tips, then add the castor sugar and beat again to the same stage.

Pile the meringue on to the filling in spoonfuls, then swirl the meringue attractively on top, making sure the meringue touches the shell at the edges.

Bake at 190C until the tips of the meringue are lightly browned. Do not overcook. Leave the pie to stand at room temperature. Serve in slices, cutting the pie with a sharp knife with a wet blade.

To make your own pastry: Process 1 cup flour and 70g cold, cubed, butter in a food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add just enough water ( 1/4 to 1/2 cup), a few drops at a time, until the crumbs come together to form a ball of dough, then stop mixing immediately. Press it into a disc then roll out on a lightly floured surface. Make the crust as described above.

The Dominion Post