Little Miss Muffet
Sat on her tuffet
Eating her curds and whey
Along came a spider
Who sat down beside her
And met a violent death as Miss Muffet squished the little fecker with her shoe 'cause there was no way she was letting some a-hole spider scare her away from her bowl of raspberry curd!
That's how the rhyme would have gone if dear Miss Muffet had been eating a slice of my pie. No word of a lie.
I have never understood the love of lemon curd, and as appealing as a lemon meringue pie is to me visually, the proof just isn't in the pudding. I generally don't like lemon in sweet things, never have, but in curd form it's even worse. I find it to be cloyingly sweet, that and with the weird hint of egginess, it's just... gross. Yes. A very grown up word. But I don't know how else to describe it.
Before my taste buds decided it would be okay to adventure into new flavour combinations and unusual foods, lemon curd was the only experience I'd had of a curd. I didn't even know there were any other kinds of curd, other than the cheese kind. Because of that, I'd written it off as a food I just would never enjoy, no matter how many times people tried to convince me otherwise.
To cut a long (and boring) story short, I discovered in my internet wanderings that there were very many other fruit curds. Mango. Lime. Berry. But even after making this discovery, it took a good four or five years for me to actually try any of them. I was just convinced it would still be... gross.
That all changed when I had a go at making apple curd for my Apple & Lime Cake. Should you choose to read that recipe's post, you'll see how my mind was changed with regards to curd. How I actually found it to be damned delicious, so long as it wasn't in lemon territory. Truly, I'm a curd convert.
So came the month of October, and in October, all things go pink in solidarity with breast cancer awareness. I thought it would be nice for me to do something pink as well.
Cupcakes? Nah. Cake? Nah. Tangy and creamy and buttery rich raspberry curd in a sweet shortcrust pastry all topped with the sugary fluffiness that is meringue? Yes.
I tell you, I'm often happy enough with the way my baked goods turn out, but it's not often that I giggle like a demented schoolgirl because it turned out so well. This tart (or is it pie?) got the demented schoolgirl giggling. My husband thought I'd read some fantastically dark joke online there was so much demented giggling going on in my "studio". Honestly, I think in all of its simplicity, this is one of the prettiest things I've baked in a girlie girl way (and I'm no girlie girl). And beyond that, so damned tasty that even though you're registering how rich and sweet it is with every bite, you just want more!
Another thing that made me happy was with the way it had come together, and that's because the first time I ever baked a lemon meringue pie, it very nearly brought me to tears.
Basically, one of my hubby's mate's mom (you get that?) was visiting, and the previous time she'd been over she had requested her all time favourite, a lemon meringue pie. "No problem, I can bake anything!" I had boasted. So when it was that she was back in Dublin and eagerly awaiting her pie, I did what I normally do, which is to Google the crap out of a recipe and find something that looks like it'll work. I dutifully made the pastry. I cooked the lemon curd (gross). I whipped up egg whites. I put everything together. I toasted the top. We got in the car and drove off. And next thing, I had what seemed like simple syrup weeping out of the pie and all over my lap. (Actually, the drying sticky stains looked quite suspect... I'll leave you to figure that one out.)
I was so damned embarrassed that I told Andrew to pull the car over, there was no way in hell that I was serving this pie. We put it in a plastic bag and shoved it in the boot.
When we arrived, still highly embarrassed (and with gross looking stains on my jeans) I admitted defeat and that the pie wasn't fit to be served and I explained why it had failed.
Somehow, my hubby's mate's mum convinced me to bring it in from the car. She went on to serve it up and declared it one of the best lemon meringue pies she'd ever had. I was pretty sure she was lying, even through her second helping, just to make me feel better.
That day when I got home I went on a mad Google frenzy; "weeping lemon meringue" came back with many tales of meringues turning into syrup, or was it egg whites going back to their liquid state...? Whatever people called it, it wasn't a new thing. In some posts, I even read how it was so normal that it wasn't thought of as a fail, just something that happens to all lemon meringue pies. But, I just couldn't buy that. Every lemon meringue pie I had come across was never a weeping mess. At least, I didn't think so. Whatever the case, I carried on my Google attack and found pages upon pages on "how to stop lemon meringue weeping".
So with different advice from many pages, I've combined methods and tricks so that this (not gross) raspberry meringue pie doesn't leave you weeping. So yes, I bake the crust until it's done. Yes, the curd goes in and is left to cool completely. Yes, you have to go "the long route" and make Swiss Meringue. Yes, you get to use a kitchen torch (YAY!). But, it's all so that you don't get left with suspect looking white-ish stains on your table cloth from sugary eggy liquid seepage. You're welcome.
Oh, and yes, I realise it's not October any more. Sorry about that. But I did think pink!
Raspberry Meringue Pie
|For the Vanilla Bean Rich Shortcrust Pastry|
|225g||8oz||Plain Flour, sifted|
|115g||4oz||Unsalted Butter, chilled & cubed|
|25g||1oz||Icing Sugar, sifted|
|Seeds from 1 Vanilla Pod|
|Pinch of Salt|
|1||1||Egg, lightly beaten|
|Ice Water, if needed|
|For the Raspberry Curd|
|250g||9oz||Raspberries, fresh or frozen|
|4||4||Egg Yolks (whites reserved for the meringue)|
|2 Tbsp||2 Tbsp||Cornflour|
|For the Meringue|
For the Pastry
- Place all ingredients except the egg (and water) in a bowl or in a food processor
- Lightly rub butter into the other ingredients until it resembles breadcrumbs, with plenty of pea sized pieces of butter remaining, or if using a food processor, pulse until mixture resembles the same
- Add the egg and use a fork to mix, then use your hands to lightly bring all the ingredients together. If using a food processor, pulse until ingredients form a ball.
- If dough is too dry to hold together, add a teaspoon of ice-water at a time, until ingredients just hold together
- Tip ingredients out onto a floured surface and lightly knead just to bring pastry together
- Tip: Do not overwork the pastry otherwise it will be tough. The less you handle it, the better. You want to still see bits of butter in the finished dough, this is what makes it flaky
- Flatten into a disc shape and wrap in clingfilm
- Refrigerate for between 30mins to an hour
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and place a large baking tray inside to heat
- Remove pastry from the fridge and unwrap
- On a flour surface, gently roll out pastry so that it's large enough to line a round 23cm/9" loose bottomed tart tin, making sure to keep pastry moving so that it doesn't stick and dusting with flour as needed
- Dust off any excess flour from the surface of the pastry then carefully lift it and lay it in the tart tin
- Use the palm of your hand and pads of your fingertips to press the pastry into the tin
- Use a fork to prick the surface of the pastry, then chill in the freezer for 15-20mins
- Remove from freezer and cut off excess overhanging pastry
- Line the pastry with rumpled parchment paper or 2 layers of clingfilm and fill to the top with baking beads or dried beans or rice
- Place on preheated baking tray and blind bake for 15mins
- Remove from the oven and carefully remove the baking beads/beans then return to the oven and bake for further 10-15mins, until pastry is golden brown
- Remove from oven and leave to cool completely on a wire rack
For the Curd
- Roughly mash the raspberries then push through a sieve set over a bowl
- Once you have enough raspberry juice to make up 250ml (1 cup), discard the pulp
- Place all ingredients except the butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium low heat
- Stir constantly using a whisk initially to break up any lumps, then switch to a spatula
- Cook, stirring all the time, until curd becomes "pudding thick", that is, thicker than a custard which will coat the back of a spoon. You want it to be thick enough that it drops off your spoon rather than pours
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter until it's completely melted and combined with the curd
- Pass through a sieve into a heatproof bowl and cover with clingfilm then leave to cool to room temperature
- Once cooled, pour into the cooled pastry case and refrigerate until chilled
For the Meringue
- Place egg whites and sugar in a large bowl set over a pot of simmering water
- Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites on low speed to start with until the sugar has dissolved and it becomes foamy
- Increase the speed to high and beat until it resembles marshmallow fluff
- Remove from heat and continue whisking until peaks are stiff and glossy
- Remove tart from fridge and spoon meringue over the curd
- Use the back of a spoon to make peaks, or as I've done, smooth the meringue then create a large swirl pattern
- Use a kitchen torch to toast the meringue, or, place under a hot grill just until toasted
- Tip: Keep a close eye when toasting the meringue, it goes from lovely and toasted to burnt in seconds
Can be stored in the fridge for a day or two, but this involves sticking toothpicks in the crust then draping clingfilm over the pie so that it doesn't touch the meringue. It's doable, but I suggest eating it on the day instead.
Now, I did say that this was weep-proof, but even with my best intentions, I did find that there was a very very small amount of weeping the next day when I took it in to work. I put that down to humidity and the sugar in the meringue deciding to spite me. But, it's at least weep free on the day!