It was my besties birthday thus something sweet and tasty was in order. I am not shabby at making birthday cakes but my oven can be unreliable in the baking process thus I figured something a little more fail safe was in order. The inspiration was also Donna Hay's recipe in the Sunday paper liftout. I did deviate from the original recipe (shock horror i know!) to create my own version. The main difference is in the pastry as I am a puritan in the butter, sugar, flour, egg ratio as opposed to using water and icing sugar. This is my favourite sweet crust recipe and I have been using it for years. The lemon curd of Donna Hay's recipe was easy to make but we all agreed it needed more lemon to create a distinct tartness compared to the ultra sweet meringue. Her curd recipe is made and cooled as opposed to baked in shell and it's an italian meringue as well which is also ultra sweet. Thus the recipes I am including here are my own lemon curd/butter and sweet paste as opposed to hers. I figured it would be nice to try something new and if you don't like your lemon curd lemony by all means use hers. Otherwise, happy cooking and enjoy this sweet treat.
2 egg yolks
Lemon Curd: (my way)
250ml lemon juice
4 egg whites
Combine butter and sugar in mixing bowl and with paddle attachment mix together until light and fluffy. Add flour and mix until just combine and crumbly. Add yolks and mix until just together. Remove from bowl and bring together by hand. You can also use a food processor for this processor or by hand - by hand add the sugar after rubbing the butter into the flour. Roll into log and wrap in cling film, refrigerate for 10-15mins. After resting roll out pastry to size of pan and press into, trimming top. Prick with a fork to allow air bubbles to escape during baking. Bake in over for about 10 mins at 170 degrees. You don't need to cover the pastry as you want it cooked through as it wont be rebaked. If the edges are browning before the base remove from oven and cover the sides with alfoil strips and continuing baking until a golden biscuit colour. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from pan. If you have used a ceramic pie dish and like the look by all means keep the pastry in the pan. I used a mental pan thus turned mine out onto my plate.
Bring sugar and lemon juice to gentle simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. Whisk eggs and yolks together and add sugar and juice mix to bowl. Whisk until well combined. Put back on low heat and stir gently until mix thickens. Ensure you don't boil the mix as it will scramble the eggs. This is where recipes that use milk and cornflour to assist in thickening can be safer for first time makers but this method is like making custard - gentle heat and constant movement should create success. When mixture thickly coasts the back of a spoon remove from heat and strain through fine sieve into a bowl. Add cubed butter and stir until melted and combined. Pour into the cooled base until just below the lip and place in fridge for at least two hours to set.
Place sugar and water into heavy based pan and bring to a boil. Continue to boil for about 5 minutes until syrup thickens.
Whisk the whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks. Slowly pour in sugar syrup whilst still whisking whites and continue whisking until mix has cooled.
Spoon the meringue over the cooled and set lemon mix forming peaks. If you have you have a blowtorch carmelise the peaks until golden. Otherwise place the pie under a hot grill allowing meringue to carmelise. Due to the high sugar content this will happen quickly so keep and eye on the pie and rotate if required.