I spend an inordinate amount of time imagining what I would cook if I were on Come Dine with Me. The perfect starter, the satisfying main course and of course, the drool-inducing pudding. For me pudding is the cherry on top of the cherry on top of the cake; I mean, it’s what’s going to linger on your tongue going into the night, so surely you should pull out all of the stops?
I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to the all-important final course. My profiteroles pack a punch, my fondant is rather fancy and my apple crumble is crumbleriffic (is that a word? If not it definitely should be), but when I am entertaining a crowd of unknown tastes, I nearly always plump for something lemony. It’s just a crowd-pleaser. There’s nothing really about the taste of lemon that people can object to, and at the end of a heavy meal (food is love), it’s the perfect light palette cleanser. Me likey.
For nights you really want to impress, you can dress up the traditional lemon tart and make lemon meringue pie. Sure to garner gasps and oohs and ahhs around the table, this is a dessert that looks like you’ve spent hours slaving away over the perfect meringue, when really you’ve spooned it like there’s no tomorrow and given yourself a manicure. But shhhh.
You will need:
- 110g plain flour
- 50g margarine or butter
- grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
- 275ml cold water
- 3 level tablespoons of cornflour (this will make your filling nice and thick!)
- 50g caster sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 40g butter
- 2 egg whites
- 110g caster sugar
- Whack yer oven on and heat up to about 190 degrees.
- Make your pastry by squashing the butter/margarine together with the flour (you can use your hands for this or if you prefer to keep it clean use a mixer) until your mix is homogeneous and uniformly crumbly. Sprinkle your mix with a little bit of cold water at a time and mix thoroughly until you have have a smooth ball of dough that comes away from the bowl cleanly. Leave to rest in your fridge. Have a cuppa.
- After about 20 minutes, take your dough out of the cold place and begin to roll it out to fit your chosen tin. Line your tin with grease and dampen your pastry before putting in the tin (take a deep breath before attempting this). Lightly poke a few holes in the pastry with a fork. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a pretty golden colour. Once out, lower the heat to 150 degrees.
- Now for the filling. Mix your cornflour and sugar in a bowl, then slowly add the cold water until you have a smooth paste.
- Pour the rest of the water into a saucepan along with the grated lemon rind. Bring to the bubbly boil. Pour this into the bowl with your cornflour paste from the previous step and mix until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture back to the boil and simmer for 1 minute (keep stirring, for the love of God keep stirring!). Remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolks, lemon juice and butter. Pour into your baked pastry case and spread nicely.
- And finally, we got your meringue! Get a large bowl and whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks (until they stand up of their own accord, basically). Beat in the caster sugar a bit at a time, then spread the meringue over your filling, making sure it covers the entire pie.
- Get decorative with a knife and make some swirls.
- Cook for 45 minutes or until the meringue is a fetching pale beige shade.
- Eat. Nom. Repeat.