Guest Blog – Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie

I love lemon meringue pie…. that buttery pastry, the tangy lemon curd filling and a fluffy meringue topping- what is not to love!   I have to confess however, that a lemon meringue pie is a dessert that’s always challenged me. If it’s not a soggy crust it’s a weepy meringue – these are usually the common issues I run into. No matter what I do, when I try to slice a homemade lemon meringue pie, either the meringue slides right off, or the crust just crumbles into a million pieces… although it does taste fine, it’s a huge mess & not pretty to look at!

On Thursday morning, Hirsch’s Fourways kicked off on a sweet note when they hosted their monthly Kitchen Capers cooking demo on the Siemens stand. Chef Karen Blanche from Guvon Academy did a demo on a Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie – was I intrigued!  It consisted of sweet crust pastry, lemon curd filling and a fluffy meringue topping.  Who needs boring old lemon meringue pie when you can get it in an art form.  The dish has all the elements I love about the sweet and tangy tart— the lemon curd, the toasted meringue, the buttery crust—but in a form so beautiful you’d think it came out of the kitchen of a fine dining restaurant

This is now my favourite recipe to practice your creativity with. Actually, when serving a Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie,  your guests  receive all the components required– the lemon curd, a cookie-like foundation, dollops of meringue, etc. – and then it’s their job to assemble it.   Whola you have a Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie!

Gather all the ingredients and let your creativity go wild

Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie

Honeycomb

Honeycomb is a great way to add a nostalgic sweet touch to desserts

Ingredients:

600g Caster Sugar

50g Honey

25g Bicarbonate of Soda

Method:

  • Use a deep saucepan as the honeycomb will triple in size when the bicarb is added. Have the bicarbonate of soda and a baking parchment-lined tray ready on the side.
  • Use an oiled spoon to measure out your honey. This will stop it from sticking to the spoon.
  • Melt the sugar over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Stir occasionally
  • Once the sugar has dissolved allow mixture to bubble until you have a deep amber colour. Turn off the heat.
  • Add the honey and stir in
  • Work quickly once the caramel has reached the right colour as it will continue to cook and may darken and burn. Be careful as sugar gets very hot and can cause nasty burns.
  • Add the bicarbonate of soda and mix well before pouring into the tin. The honeycomb will bubble up.
  • Leave to cool and harden for at least an hour. When set, break it into shards.

Lemon Curd

Lemon curds success is dependent on using fresh lemon juice; we have added a little gelatin to allow the setting with in the tart case, allowing us to cut the tart neatly.

Ingredients

250g Sugar

250g Butter

250g Eggs

500g Lemon Juice

1 Lemon zest

5 Gelatine leaves

Method:

  • In a Saucepan, cook (bring to a boil) the lemon juice, sugar &butter.
  • Tempering in the eggs, and cook until thick.(adding one by one)
  • Stir continuously till thick – should coat the back of a spoon like custard – low heat
  • Allow to cool slightly then add the bloomed gelatin. (squeezing off any access water)
  • Pass mixture through a sieve.
  • Leave to set overnight.

Chefs note:

As the gelatin absorbs the liquid, each granule becomes enlarged; this is known as “blooming”. “Blooming” gelatin is a step integral to ensuring the smooth texture of a finished product.

Sweet Pastry

This sweet pastry can be made in plain or in a chocolate variant, depending on the application

Very stable and nice to roll.

Ingredients:

325g Butter

175g Icing Sugar

100g Egg

500g Cake Flour

Pinch of Salt

Method:

  • Cream together the butter and sugar very lightly – do not overmix, or you will add too much air to the pastry
  • Gradually add the eggs. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl so that all the ingredients are uniformly mixed.
  • Add the flour and salt and mix until you have a combined dough. Flatten out slightly then wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before rolling
  • Roll out
  • Cut into round discs

 

Chefs note:

Do not over-mix as this will develop gluten- and this will make the pastry tight –only bring ingredients together to form a dough

Swiss Meringue

Swiss meringue is made with the same ingredient ratio as French meringue, but has a much fluffier end result, and with the added benefit of the meringue already being cooked

Ingredients:

400g Caster Sugar

200g Egg White

Pinch of Salt

¼ teaspoon Cream of Tarter

½ teaspoon Vanilla Essence

Method:

  • Fill a wide pot with at least 2 inches of water – bring to a boil
  • In a stainless steel container – wide enough to fit on top of the pot, add the eggs and sugar, whisk well
  • Place the mixture on top of the water, bring the water down to a light simmer
  • Add the vanilla, salt and cream of tartar
  • Whisk the mixture until the sugar has dissolved
  • Then place mix in a high speed mixer for 15 minutes
  • Meringue should be firm and glossy
  • Meringue is now ready to be piped/spread and dried

To serve

  1. Place a few biscuits on your serving plates.
  2. If the lemon curd is thick, stir in a little lemon juice. Mix well, until smooth. Dollop some onto each plate.
  3. Pipe meringue onto plate – this meringue can also be toasted on the plate.
  4. Break honeycomb into shards. Place creatively on top of the lemon curd.
  5. Add a scoop of sorbet on the side or serve with whipped cream (optional)

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