Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Peach Meringue Pie

This recipe provides a great opportunity to hone a variety of skills and techniques, including making both short pastry and soft meringues. I've decided to stray from the path well trodden and used softened peaches instead of the traditional lemon filling, not only to mix things up a bit, but to bring a touch of dynamism in terms of texture. Of course if you want to try out another fruity filling then you are more than welcome, for as I always say, it is your kitchen and you are in charge!

Prep time: Err there's quite a few processes going on here, so let's say around 45 Mins!
Baking time: All in, around 35-45 Mins
For the Pastry
150g Plain Flour
150g Cold Unsalted Butter (Cut into small cubes)
2tbsp Caster Sugar

For the Fruit
4 Ripe Peaches (Peeled and Stoned)
1tbsp Caster Sugar
The zest of 2 Unwaxed Lemons (Or 1 big one!)

For the Meringue
4 Large Egg Whites
200g Caster Sugar
2tsp Cornflour

Let's start with the pastry. Rub the flour into the butter and sugar until a loose dough begins to form, then tip out onto a clean, dry surface. If the mixture is dry you can add a few drips of water, but do so with great restraint and even greater care! On the surface bring the dough together with your hands until smooth, then wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line the base of a 20cm, deep pie tin with baking paper (this is optional, but I find it makes things a little easier when it's time to remove the pie from the tin). Take the dough from the fridge and roll out to a large flat disk. Carefully lay the disk into your tin, pressing it into the edges and leaving a short overhang of around 1cm. Trim off any excess pastry and use it to fill any cracks, then line with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Blind bake in the centre of the oven for around 20 minutes, then remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for 5-7 minutes, until the pastry is a light golden brown. You'll want the pastry base to be almost entirely baked before proceeding.

Whilst the pastry is cooking you can prepare the peaches. Cut each peach into 8 and place in a large, flat based saucepan. Add the caster sugar and zest, give it a gentle toss together, then arrange the fruit evenly over the base of the saucepan. You might find this easier to do in batches! Place on a low/medium heat, cover, then leave for around 6-7 minutes. Flip each slice over, then cover again for another 5-6 minutes until just yielding to the touch. If you want the fruit softer just leave them a little longer in the pan. When you're happy with the fruit remove from the heat and leave to one side until your pastry is done.

For the meringue add the egg whites to a bowl and whisk (You'll definitely want to use an electric whisker for this!) until peaks just start to hold their shape. Add the caster sugar, gradually and still whisking until stiff and glossy, then whisk in the cornflour to combine.

When your pastry base is cooked, remove from the oven, turning the heat up to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Trim the excess pastry to the edge of the pie tin, then arrange the cooked fruit over the base. Top generously with the meringue and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, until starting to brown on top.

When you are happy the pie is done remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pie tin. Once cool carefully remove and serve. Booooooooooom all finished!

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