One of my favourite classic desserts is lemon meringue pie, but only when it is as fresh as possible - after 5-6 hours the meringue starts to "weep". So I came up with this version for the restaurant. It is assembled at the last minute and because of this you have wonderful, crisp meringue and very crisp pastry, giving a perfectly clean and refreshing dessert. It is served with angelica and lemon sorbet and jelly, plus some zingy, fresh home-made cardamom yogurt.
INGREDIENTS (Serves 10)
For the tart
- 1 quantity of sweet pastry (see page 28)
- 250ml lemon juice
- Grated zest of 3 lemons
- 600ml double cream
- 14 egg yolks
- 125g caster sugar
- 250g unsalted butter, diced
- 3 gelatine leaves
For the meringue
- 30ml liquid glucose
- 50ml water
- 125g caster sugar
- 100g egg whites (about 3)
For the angelica and lemon sorbet
- 225ml lemon juice
- Grated zest of 2 lemons
- 250ml water
- 25ml liquid glucose
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g fresh angelica
- 11/2 gelatine leaves
- For the angelica and lemon jelly
- 200ml lemon juice
- 150ml water
- 180g caster sugar
- 40g fresh angelica leaves
- 2 gelatine leaves
- 200g cardamom yogurt (see over)
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface until it is 2mm thick. Cut to a 12cm x 36cm rectangle, transfer to a baking sheet and place in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up. Remove from the freezer, prick all over with a fork and cut into 10 rectangles about 3.5cm x 12cm. Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking parchment and place in an oven preheated to 160°C/gas mark 3 for 5-7 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Store in an airtight container until needed.
Bring the lemon juice and zest to the boil in a medium saucepan, reduce the heat and simmer for two minutes. Pour in the double cream and bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat. Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together and pour on the lemon cream, whisking constantly, then beat in the butter a little at a time. Return the mixture to the pan and put it back on the heat for just a couple of minutes, until finger warm. Soak the gelatine in cold water for about five minutes, until soft and pliable. Squeeze out all the water and add the gelatine to the pan, stirring until dissolved. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a jug.
Line a 36cm x 11.5cm x 4cm metal cooking frame with a double layer of clingfilm with a little overlap. Put the frame in a roasting tin lined with a cloth - this helps protect the lemon mixture from direct heat. Fill the frame to the top with the lemon mixture, then half-fill the roasting tin with hot water. Place in an oven preheated to 120°C/gas mark 1/2 and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the custard is just set when you shake the tray gently.
Take out of the oven and remove as much water as you can from the roasting tin. Leave to cool in the tin and then place in the fridge in the tin to chill.
Place the glucose, water and 100g of the caster sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook without stirring until it reaches 120°C on a sugar thermometer. When it reaches 110°C, start whisking the egg whites with the remaining caster sugar in a freestanding electric mixer. When the egg whites have formed soft peaks and the syrup has reached the correct temperature, turn the machine down and slowly pour in the syrup down the side of the bowl in a thin, steady stream. Continue whisking until the meringue is cold.
Place the meringue in a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle and pipe it into 4-5cm spikes flat along a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Place in an oven preheated to 100°C/gas mark 1/4 and bake for 50 minutes to one hour with the door slightly open. The meringues should be dry and crisp; return them to the oven for longer, if necessary. Leave to cool and then store in an airtight container until needed.
Angelica and lemon sorbet
Place the lemon juice, lemon zest, water, glucose and caster sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, add the angelica leaves and then pour into a liquidiser. Blend until smooth. Soak the gelatine in cold water for about five minutes, until soft and pliable. Squeeze out all the water and add the gelatine to the syrup. Stir until dissolved, then pass through a fine sieve. Transfer to an ice-cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to the fridge to soften slightly about 10 minutes before serving.
Angelica and lemon jelly
Bring the lemon juice, water and caster sugar to the boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, add the angelica leaves and place in a liquidiser. Blend until smooth. Soak the gelatine in cold water for about five minutes, until soft and pliable. Squeeze out all the water and add the gelatine to the syrup. Stir until dissolved, then pass through a fine sieve into a baking tray to a depth of 1cm. Place in the fridge to set.
Trim the ends of the lemon mixture and cut it into 10 slices the same size as the pieces of pastry. Place directly on to the cooked pastry bases, then top with some pieces of meringue at different angles and flash a blowtorch over them to colour them lightly. Place a few streaks of cardamom yogurt on each serving plate. Then add the lemon meringue, two scoops of sorbet and a couple of small scoops of jelly.
I devised this sweet pastry when I was in the National Chef of the Year competition and wanted something that would be very quick to prepare and wouldn't shrink if it was cooked without resting first.
Ground pistachios or walnuts could be used instead of almonds, or you could substitute Demerara sugar for icing sugar to give a completely different taste.
- 270g plain flour
- 150g cold unsalted butter
- 50g ground almonds
- Grated zest of 1 lemon or 1 orange
- Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
- 100g icing sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
Place all the ingredients except the egg and egg yolk in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and yolk and pulse until the mixture starts to form a ball. Turn out on to a floured surface and knead as lightly as possible, just until smooth. Form into a ball, flatten, then wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least three hours before use. This pastry is suitable for freezing; thaw for 24 hours in the fridge.
Of course, you don't have to make your own yogurt, but we do at the restaurant. It takes so little time and you can be sure of injecting your own personal taste into it. You can create so many flavours: coriander, vanilla, coffee, liquorice. But one of my favourites just has to be cardamom. The slight acidity of the yogurt and the almost citrus tang of the cardamom just seem to be made for each other. I use it for adding a light touch to desserts. It can help cut the richness of chocolate and is a great accompaniment to anything citrus. So a small yogurt maker is essential in our kitchen. If you want to make plain yogurt, just omit the cardamom from this recipe.
- 10 cardamom pods
- 1 litre whole milk
- 200g natural live yogurt
Place the cardamom and milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and cool down to 35°C. Pass through a fine sieve, then mix in the live yogurt and place in a yogurt maker. Leave for 8-10 hours, then store in the fridge until needed.
If you want a thicker yogurt, add 35g of dried skimmed milk powder to the milk before boiling. After the initial use of bought live yogurt, you can use 200g of your own home-made yogurt for the next batch.