Thyme and pie wait for no man (woman or child)!
Lemon Meringue Pie is such a classic dessert with its sweet buttery pastry, tart lemon curd filling topped with sweet meringue peaks and is one of those desserts which I fondly recall from my childhood. They were so popular in our family. When mum made one to round off our Sunday lunch we'd always secretly hope that there'd be some left for a second portion...simply to ensure that it was as delicious as our taste buds had led us to believe, you understand!
So, when this week's episode of GBBO called for the remaining bakers to make a Citrus Meringue for their signature bake I almost felt the need to turn the oven on and split the eggs there and then for a late night bake and feast! But given that Mr E doesn't care for meringue (Huh?! How can somebody not like meringue?!) I also decided to attempt Paul's technical challenge of herby fougasse, which I shall share with you soon. The 3 tiered showstopper floral cake was discounted as being too much for our small household.
Now, given that this week's episode was botanical week, a first for GBBO, the bakers' citrusy meringue had to include anything which grows. One of the bakers used coconut to compliant her citrus filled meringue pie, another incorporated ginger whilst others used herbs. Wanting to use the popular flavour of lemon in our meringue pie, I briefly searched the encyclopedia which we have at our finger tips and learnt that a whole host of flavours work with lemon from apricot, elderberry and pear, through to anise, cardamom, ginger, mint and vanilla, as well as almonds, pecans and pistachios. But the flavour which grabbed my attention was thyme, being straightforward to incorporate into the pastry of our Lemon Meringue Pie. The fresh thyme leaves were finely chopped and included in the sweet pastry crumbs before the egg was added.
The meringue itself was made using the Swiss technique, the method favoured by Jane who described it as being 'stable and crisps up nicely'. James Martin, one of my favourite pastry chefs, wrote in his book Sweet that Swiss meringue is 'much firmer than its classic cousin, and is ideal as a covering for Lemon Meringue Pies, Baked Alaskas, and Ice Cream Cakes'. Given these perfect description, it was clear that Swiss meringue was the appropriate route to take. Plus, having already tried Swiss meringue in my Strawberry and Basil Pavlova back in the summer I was aware that it is a relatively straightforward technique which results in a thick meringue and retains its piped shape really well.
And the result? Delicious! Scrumptious! Yummy! Well it was a lemon meringue pie after all! Admitedly the thyme wasn't evident in every bite, but in those bites when it was present the flavour combination was absolutely delicious. Although thyme is usually used in savoury meals, I would certainly recomend using a pinch of the herb in your next bake!
Let's get to it and baaaake!
together in this classic dessert, with its tart
lemony filling, crisp marshmallowy meringue and thyme infused pastry.
Hands on time: 50 - 60 mins Cook time: 45 - 50 mins Yield: 1 x 22cm pie (serves 10)
1 x 22cm loose bottom deep fluted flan tin.
Hand held electric beaters
For the Sweet Pastry (Pate Sucree)
- 275g Plain Flour
- 100g Icing Sugar
- 100g Butter, unsalted & chilled
- 2 Eggs, Large, loosley beaten
- 2 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves, finely chopped
For the Lemon Curd Filling
- 3 Lemons (ideally unwaxed)
- 60g Cornflour
- 450ml Water
- 3 Egg Yolks
- 112g Caster Sugar
For the Swiss Meringue
- 4 Egg White
- 225g Caster Sugar
Notes: a) The quantity of pastry made here is likely to result in a surplus. The excess pastry could be used in another bake - perhaps some lemon curd tarts or a lemon curd turn-over. It can also freeze well, once wrapped thoroughly. Alternatively, halve the pastry ingredients and roll your pastry thinly to successfully line the tart. b) Consider using lemon thyme instead of thyme in the pastry. c) Please be careful not to knock your bowl and pan of hot water over whilst beating the Swiss meringue. d) As well as using your fingers to esure that the sugar has has fully dissolved into the meringue, you can also use a thermometer to ensure it has reached the correct temperature. It is ready when it reaches a temperature of 73c / 163f, though I didn't use a thermometer.