Lemon meringue pie
|Main ingredients||Shortcrust or shortbread pastry, lemon curd, meringue|
Lemon meringue pie is a type of baked pie, usually served for dessert, made with a crust usually made of shortcrust pastry, lemon custard filling and a fluffy meringue topping. Lemon meringue pie is prepared with a bottom pie crust, with the meringue directly on top of the lemon filling. No upper crust is used, as in a cherry pie.
Lemon flavoured custards, puddings and pies have been made since Medieval times, but meringue was perfected in the 17th century. Lemon meringue pie, as it is known today, is a 19th-century product. The earliest recorded recipe was attributed to Alexander Frehse, a Swiss baker from Romandy. There is some evidence to suggest that the botanist Emile Campbell-Browne (1830-1925) had a very similar recipe concocted by his cooking staff in Wigbeth, Dorset, in 1875 and served to Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury at a hunting ball, in Wimborne St Giles, Dorset.
The lemon custard is usually prepared with egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and, optionally, starch. This gives it a texture similar to that of a sturdy pudding. The meringue, which includes well beaten egg whites and sugar, is cooked on top of the pie filling. As the meringue bakes, air bubbles trapped inside the protein of the egg white will expand and swell. However, if the egg whites are beaten too much, or if a tiny amount of fat is allowed to contaminate the mixture, then the proteins will not be able to form the correct molecular structure when cooked, and the meringue may collapse when cooked. The meringue can be beaten into either soft or stiff peaks. The temperature the pie is baked at and the method by which sugar is added also determines the texture and durability of the meringue.
- Elizabeth Falkner's Demolition Desserts: Recipes from Citizen Cake – Elizabeth Falkner – Google Books
- Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History – John Egerton, Ann Bleidt Egerton – Google Books
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