Lemon Meringue Tart

The quest for a suitable pudding for Sunday lunch is a long and arduous one - with four children to please, let alone the Hubby - I'm never going to please everyone all of the time.  But we seem to have discovered a new favourite: lemon meringue pie!  A couple of weeks ago I bought one, and frankly it was pretty meagre and insipid.  I didn't want them to think this was actually lemon meringue pie, and I remembered that there had been a tart in the Great British Bake-Off book.  Not being a massive pudding fan, I knew a tart would work for the grownups too!  The result? A zingy, luscious curd, a crisp base, a dense high tower of soft meringue...

Pâte sucrée (sweet shortcrust pastry)
175g plain flour
pinch of salt
115g of butter, chilled and diced
1 medium free range egg yolk,
mixed with 2 tablespoons of ice-cold water
1 tablespoon of  caster sugar

3 medium unwaxed lemons
40g cornflour
50g unsalted butter, diced
85g caster sugar
3 medium free range egg yolks
300ml water

4 medium free range egg whites
200g caster sugar

And a 22cm loose-based deep flan tin


For the pastry:
Sift the flour and salt onto a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the butter, egg yolks and sugar. Using just your fingertips, rub everything together until you form breadcrumbs, and then lightly bring the dough together. Knead lightly until smooth, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and line a 9 inch fluted flan tin. Prick the base with a fork, then again for chill for 30 mins. Bake blind at 190′C for 25-30 mins until cooked and lightly browned.  Don't forget, you could also cheat this stage, either buying ready-made shortcrust pastry (make sure it is a sweet shortcrust), or buying a pre-prepared tart base.


Grate the lemon zest into a heatproof bowl, with the juice from the lemons, and the cornflour.  Mix together until the mixture is smooth.  Heat 400ml of water until just boiling, and then pout onto the lemon juice and cornflour.  

Stir until well mixed, and then tip the mixture back into the saucepan.  Bring the entire mixture back to the boil and allow to thicken. Allow to cook out for a further minute.  

Remove the mixture from the heat, beat in the egg yolks gradually, then beat in the butter bit by bit, then beat in the caster sugar.  You should now be left with a smooth lemon curd (smooth apart from the zest, obviously). 


Whisk the egg whites in a bowl until they form stiff peaks. Gradually whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, whisking well between each addition, until very stiff and shiny.  If you feel a little of the mixture between your fingers there will be no grittiness if the sugar has dissolved into the egg whites.

Make sure that you're making the meringue mixture at the same time, and when reaching the finishing point for both, pour the curd mixture into the tart case. You're to place the tart onto a pre-heated oven tray, so I already had my tart on a sheet of baking parchment. This allowed me to pull it straight onto the tray when required.

I looked at my very full case and then wondered how on earth to tip all that meringue onto the tart without displacing the filling.  I decided to spoon the blobs of meringue around the outside of the tart and then gradually work my way to the centre.  That achieved, I swirled a few peaks up and popped it into the oven.  Bake in the oven at 190′C for 20 minutes until a light gold colour. Leave to cool before serving.

*Now for the advice bit: bread makers weigh everything.  When we say 4 eggs whites, we generally give an equivalent weight, because obviously not all eggs are the same size.  Herein lies the problem with the recipe for me.  My lemon curd was a little too loose, and I think this is because the quantity of lemon juice isn't specified exactly. When you make the curd, make sure that it is thicker than perhaps you'd expect it to be.  As soon as it started to thicken, I removed it from the heat and gave it a thorough beating :0).  Perhaps given that I was then to add further liquids (in the form of the beaten egg yolks and the butter which would melt) I should have ensured that the first stage of the curd was much thicker than it needed to be.  I would also say, make sure you have a deep enough tart case!  I made a very short tart, which of course meant that I had a very fine layer of lemon in the finished product.  It also left me with a little spare lemon curd (hurrah).  Personally I preferred it that way, but it really is a lemon tart then, not a lemon meringue pie.  I think you also end up with far too great meringue to curd ratio.  Having said that, the tart was delicious, and very popular.

You can buy the Great British Bake-Off here >