Monday, 14 January 2013

Lemon Pie

I love the refined, intricate and artistic side of baking as much as the next man, but sometimes you can't beat something entirely more uncultured. There is nothing particularly sophisticated about this lemon pie and it's all the better for it, with a slab of flaky pie crust on top and a proper lemony slap in the chops underneath. I was lucky enough to find Meyer lemons this time, which are slightly sweeter and more floral in taste than a regular lemons, but if you can only get the normal variety then don't worry, it's still delicious!

Prep time: 30 Mins (Plus some macerating and resting time)
Baking time: 45 Mins
For the filling
3 Unwaxed Lemons
325g Caster Sugar
1 Large Egg, plus 2 Yolks
25g Plain Flour

For the pie crust
100g Butter
150g Plain Flour
8-10tsp Cold Water

Milk (To brush)
Caster Sugar (To dust)

First thing you need to do is sort the lemons out. Slice them as thinly as you can, the thinner the better (use a mandolin if you have one) and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle over the 325g of sugar and mix together. Set to one side and leave to macerate for two hours, stirring occasionally.

After about an hour you can start on the pastry. Wrap the butter in foil and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes to harden. Remove from the freezer and grate into a large mixing bowl. Sift in the 150g of flour and mix together with the blade of a butter knife. Add a couple of teaspoons of the water, start to bring the dough together with your hands, then keep adding water, a teaspoon at a time until you are left with a smooth dough. Tip the dough out onto a clean surface, knead for 1 minute, then wrap in cling film and place into the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

By now the lemons should be nice and syrupy so it's time to get the whole thing ready. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and get out a medium sized oven proof dish (I used a 24cm enamelware one). Take the pastry out of the fridge and break off about a quarter. On a lightly floured surface roll out the quarter to a thin strip and press around the edge of your oven proof dish. This will help the lid stick to the dish. In a bowl beat the eggs and yolks, then sift in the 25g of flour and whisk, breaking up any lumps. Tip into the macerated lemons and mix together, then spoon into the prepared dish. Take the rest of the pastry and roll out on a lightly floured surface, until its big enough to fit the top of the dish. Lay on top of the lemon mixture and press the edges, marrying the pastry lid to the edge. Make a small hole in the middle of the lid, brush with milk and sprinkle liberally with caster sugar.

Bake in the centre of the oven for around 45 minutes, until the lid is golden brown. It's probably best to let the pie cool for 15 minutes before serving, as the filling will be very hot, but then you have my permission to dive right in!

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