With the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle just over a week away, I’ve been reading all about their plans for their wedding cake. The cake will be made by pastry chef , owner of the Violet Bakery in London. Claire has been asked to create a lemon elderflower cake that will incorporate the bright flavours of spring. I love lemon and elderflower, so inspired by those flavours, I’ve made a delicious Lemon and Elderflower Gin Meringue Pie.
Lemon Meringue Pie is a family favourite. It’s my brother’s favourite pudding, so we ate it quite a lot growing up. I had a lovely bottle of The Lakes Distillery Elderflower Gin Liqueur which I thought might be just the thing to take a very good lemon meringue pie up to the next level, it turns out I was right.
The Lakes Distillery Elderflower Gin Liqueur is made with 14 carefully selected botanicals, all combined with Elderflower extract to make this vibrant and floral Elderflower Gin Liqueur. It’s a lovely summery drink and it the perfect tipple to use in my Lemon and Elderflower Gin Meringue Pie.
For me, the best Lemon Meringue Pies are mostly meringue. My brother fundamentally disagrees with me, he likes the lemony pie base. But the pastry has to be light and crisp. What’s your favourite part of a Lemon Meringue Pie?
Lemon and Elderflower Gin Meringue Pie
For the pastry –
114g plain flour
56g butter, cubed
A pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons of cold water
-or- a packet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
-or- a bought shortcrust pastry case
For the filling –
200g caster sugar
2 level tablespoons of plain flour
3 level tablespoons of cornflour
Pinch of salt
50mls The Lakes Distillery Elderflower Gin Liqueur
2 lemons, zested and juiced
30g unsalted butter
4 egg yolks
For the meringue –
4 egg whites
75g caster sugar
Put the flour and butter in the mixing bowl and rub the flour and butter together with your finger tips until they look like breadcrumbs. Add the water but do not make it wet or sticky. Knead gently together and wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in fridge for about 20 minutes.
Roll out your pastry and line a greased tart tray with the pastry and trim the edges. Prick the pastry all over and bake blind (with baking beans if you have them) for around 20 minutes at Gas Mark 6/400’F/200’C/180 Fan.
Whilst your pastry case is baking, make the lemon filling. In a saucepan, over a medium-high heat, whisk together 200g caster sugar, flour, cornflour and salt. Stir in the water, Elderflower Gin Liqueur, lemon juice and the lemon zest. Keep whisking until the mixture comes to the boil and starts to thicken.
Once the lemony mixture is pretty thick, whisk in the unsalted butter. Do not be tempted to use margarine instead, it will be horrible.
Put the egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk. Add a spoon of the hot lemony mixture and beat it in, gradually add about 8 more spoons, whisking each time. Tip the egg yolk mixture into the pan with the lemon filling and bring to the boil, whisking all the time. If you just tip the yolks straight into the hot pan they will scramble and it will be grim.
Cook for a few more minutes until the mixture is thick and glossy, remove the lemon filling from the heat and carefully pour it into the pastry case. I like to leave it to cool in the case for a ten minutes or so before I top with the meringue.
Now for the fun part. In a large and squeaky clean glass bowl, whip the egg whites. Gradually add the caster sugar and whip the egg into stiff peaks. If you’re doing this by hand it could take some time, I use an electric whisk and it only takes a few minutes to get to stiff peak perfection.
Dollop the meringue over the pie making sure it covers the pie and seals the edges so no lemon is showing. I like to use a spoon to try to make some peaks on the pie before baking it in the oven for 15 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown.
You can either eat it hot from the oven, or chilled from the fridge; either is good. No, either is bloody lovely.
Tip: If you’ve got any of the lemon filling left over, it’s excellent spooned over vanilla ice cream.
Disclosure: I was sent a bottle of The Lakes Distillery Elderflower Gin Liqueur to use in a recipe.