For the pastry
225g/8oz plain flour
30g/1oz icing sugar
1 large free-range egg yolk, beaten
For the lemon filling
4 large lemons, zest and juice. Zest with a vegetable peeler to give large slivers
600ml/20fl oz of water
175g/6oz caster sugar
4 free-range egg yolks
For the meringue topping
5 free-range egg whites
250g/8oz caster sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
- First make the pastry. Measure the flour and butter into a food processor and blend together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar, egg and one - two tablespoons of water and whizz again until combined to a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes or so,
- Tip the pastry onto a work surface and roll out to a 3mm thickness. Use the rolling pin to lift the pastry up and transfer it to line a 25cm/10in loose-bottomed flan tin. Be careful not to stretch the pastry as you tuck it into the corners. Cover in cling film and place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
- Take the pastry-lined tin out of the fridge and trim the excess pastry. Press the top edge of the pastry so that it stands slightly higher than the top of the tin. Prick the base all over with a fork
- Line the pastry case with parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for about 15 minutes then remove the beans and parchment and return to the oven for a further five - ten minutes until dry.
- Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 150C/340F/Gas 3½.
- For the filling, mix the lemon juice with the cornflour and stir to form a smooth paste. Measure 450ml/16fl oz of water into a pan add the lemon zest and bring to the boil. Strain the water into the lemon cornflour mixture and stir over the heat until the mixture has thickened, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- In a bowl mix together the sugar and egg yolks and carefully whisk into the lemon mixture in the pan. Stir over a medium heat until thickened. Set aside for a few minutes and then pour into the baked pastry case.
- For the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a free-standing mixer until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Add the caster sugar a little at a time, still whisking until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
- Spoon on top of the filled pastry case and spread the meringue to completely cover the lemon filling. Then create a swirl on the top of the meringue.
- Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until the filling is completely set and the meringue is lightly golden and crisp. Allow to cool completely before cutting or serve very slightly warm.
Well here it is, the grandma and grandpa of all deserts. If you are English and of a certain age then I think this represents the apotheosis of puddings.The very name conjures up the smell of roast beef and yorkshires on a Sunday afternoon.
That notwithstanding, I think this is a most excellent pudding in and of itself. Crisp pastry, tart set lemon curd and fluffy, slightly caramelised meringue are a sensory and taste delight. Getting the right balance (the lemon must be tart rather than sweet, the meringue have mouth feel) is critical andover the years I have tried several different recipes. The one I have landed on as my go-to is given below.
Unsurprisingly it is originally a Mary Berry (and beats Delia on all counts) and it is, above all things, reliable. I have never had it go wrong and that is saying something. I think it is important not to serve it hot though - because if you do the lemon will not be set and it will run everywhere. Leave it for at least an hour out of the oven before you try and cut it so al the layers are set and preserved int he magnificent slice. You will also be able to serve it far more elegantly warm or cold than hot.