Friday, 25 February 2011

Lemon-Meringue Pudding (Or Pie)

Lemon-meringue is a very popular kind of pie, but I've noticed more crusts being sent back to the kitchen with this kind of pie than any other. People don't eat their pie-crusts for various reasons; too full, kind of dieting, don't actually like it all that much. I've never felt that the crust was the best part of a lemon-meringue pie. It just doesn't seem as well integrated with the filling as it does with some pies.

With those considerations in view, I made some lemon-meringue pudding, which was exactly the same as lemon-meringue pie except without the actual pie part. Simpler, quicker, and I have to say I for one didn't miss that crust a bit. But if you want it, there's no reason why not.

One other advantage to not using a crust is that in fact I put in the juice of 1 1/2 lemons, instead of the juice of just one. It definitely made it a little softer and runnier. It would have been quite hard to cut it as a pie, but as a pudding in individual dishes there was no problem - just lots of really zingy deliciousness.

As ever when using the lemon zest, I look particularly hard for organic lemons. Either way be sure to give it a good scrub before proceeding.

People sometimes wonder what the heck cream of tartar is. It's an acidic sediment created in wine-making, and it's perfectly harmless stuff. It just helps the egg whites hold those stiff bubbles.

6 servings
40 minutes for filling - 20 minutes prep time, not including making crust

Lemon Meringue Pudding
1 prepared single pie crust

(1/2 recipe of this or this for instance) but only if you want pie, and it needs to be pre-baked. Ten to fifteen minutes baking should do it. It can be warm or cool when the crust goes in, but cool is probably better for avoiding excessive sogginess.

Filling & Meringue:
3 tbsps corn starch
2/3 cup sugar
1 large lemon, zest & juice
3 eggs, separated
1 cup water
1 tbsp butter
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar

In the top of a double boiler, beat together the cornstarch, 2/3 cup of sugar, and the finely grated zest and juice of the lemon. Separate the eggs and beat in the egg yolks, setting the whites aside in a mixing bowl. Slowly mix in the water, stirring constantly to keep the mixture very smooth. (You should not be heating the double boiler until after this is done.) Just drop in the butter. It will melt in as the filling cooks.

Now turn on the heat and cook until thick, stirring nearly constantly. An electric mixer is useful for this, but a whisk is fine too. Do not overcook the mixture; once it has thickened it should be removed from the heat promptly.

Pour the thickened filling into custard cups, or the baked crust if you are making a pie. Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Wash and dry the beaters before using them again. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until fairly stiff. Beat in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Spread the meringue over the lemon filling, making sure it is attached right along the edges of the custard cups or pie plate - this will prevent it from shrinking away from them when baked.

Bake the puddings or pie at 300°F for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and chill before serving.


Little Black Car said...

I bake pie-filling "puddings" all the time. I've never been a big pie-crust person: It's too much work to make for the enjoyment anyone gets out of it. Ironically, I hate a well-made flaky crust most of all. I always use--gasp!--frozen crusts because, once I stretch them into a 10-inch Pyrex pie plate, they're thinner, and I don't mind the texture.

However, I love pie. And quiche. But any excuse I can use not to bother with the crust is A-OK by me.

kdub said...

What a great idea! The pies look delicious :) Redpath Sugar is looking for the best pie recipe you've got! Enter our contest, we'd love to have your pie in the running!