Between refreshing Twitter and catching a few minutes here and there of River Cottage episodes, I cruised in and out of the kitchen and made these little lemon meringue pies. When I was done, I felt so satisfied with myself, I really didn't feel the need to do anything else for the rest of the day.
Little Lemon Meringue Pies
slightly adapted from Channel 4, pastry slightly adapted from Annabel Langbein's Free Range in the City
For the Pastry Cases:
Makes more than you'll need for 8 pastry cases, but you can freeze the rest for another day
360g butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/3 cups plain flour
a pinch of salt
For the Lemon Filling:
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
90g golden caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 lemon, juice and zest finely grated
1/2 lime, juice and zest finely grated
70g unsalted butter, cut into small dice
For the Meringue:
2 eggs whites
80g caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour
Make the Pastry:
Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and bring it together. Cut it into 4 quarters and freeze 3 quarters. Wrap the remaining quarter to use for the pies in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the pastry out between two layers of baking paper, as thin as you can make it while still being able to work with it. Cut 8 circles of dough and press the dough into 8 x 8cm tart fluted tart pans. Pop the little tart tins on a baking tray and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Blind bake the pastry cases by lining each tart tin with a piece of foil, making sure you push into the corners, and weight the foil down by putting baking weights on top of the foil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until brown and crisp.
Make the Lemon Filling:
Whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar and cornflour in a heat-proof mixing bowl until combined. Add the lemon and lime zest and squeeze in the juice. Mix well and add the cream.
Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir for about 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and add the butter, whisking all the time until the butter has melted and it is silky.
Fill the tart cases to the top and then set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Make the Meringue:
Place the egg whites in a large bowl and with an electric hand mixer (or in the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), whisk on high speed until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar a little at a time until all the sugar is incorporated and you have a thick, glossy meringue mixture. Add the cornflour and whisk again for a minute to incorporate.
Spoon the meringue into a piping bag and snip a 1cm hole in the end. Pipe swirls of meringue on top of the lemon filling. Use a blow torch to lightly toast the meringue.