Here it is, as promised - a recipe for the best ever lemon meringue pie. I know it looks long but trust me, it's really easy.
Step 1: The pastry shell. You can use your own shortcrust pastry recipe, or ready-made pastry or a ready-made pie shell. Here is my favourite shortcrust pastry recipe for when I'm really pushing the boat out. It makes the best ever mince pies, for example. Sift 7oz plain flour into a bowl with ½ teaspoon of salt. Make a well in the centre. Add 4oz diced softened (really soft) unsalted butter, 2oz caster sugar, 4 egg yolks and ½ teaspoon vanilla essence into the well and then rub in. In fact I usually heave it all into my food processor with a dough hook attachment and let it run until it looks like pastry. Bring it together into a ball and knead it lightly, then wrap it in clingfilm and chill it for at least half an hour before using.
Roll it out, but it's a b****r to handle, so if it falls apart when you try to line your greased 9-10” pie tin with it, don't panic. Just smoosh it back together with your knuckles, and feel free to cover any holes with leftover bits of pastry and work them in until you can't hardly see the join no more. Stab the bottom with a fork a few times, put a sheet of tin foil inside and fill with blind baking beans, dried chickpeas, or whatever you can find to weigh it down evenly. Then bake at 200°C, 400°F, gas 6 until golden brown and set aside to cool. Turn the oven down to 150°C, 300°F, gas mark 2 whilst you sort out the filling.
Step 2: The lemon filling. You can use a jar of Hedgewizard's lemon curd, but if you're making the lemon filling just for the pie it's more economical to use a slight variation: separate 3 eggs. The whites will become the meringue, the yolks become the lemon curd. Put the yolks in a pan with the juice of 2 lemons, 3oz sugar, 2oz butter and a tablespoon of cornflour. Heat over a moderate heat whilst beating all the time until the mixture thickens. Then quickly pour it into the prepared pie shell.
Step 3: The meringue. Whisk 3 egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually beat in 6 oz of caster sugar, then spread the mixture all over the lemon pie filling. It's important to spread it right to the edges and seal in the filling. Don't be too neat smoothing down the top - I like quite a spiky meringue topping. Bake at 150°C, 300°F, gas mark 2 (you did remember to turn the oven down, didn't you?) until the outside of the meringue has turned sort of beige in places. It takes quite a while - meringues dry out slowly in the oven rather than bake. We're talking at least half an hour, perhaps more.
The meringue will be squidgy in the middle. It's supposed to be. Those meringues you get at the shop that are crispy all through like styrofoam, they're made differently with boiling sugar syrup and all kinds of messing about. Don't pay them no mind.
Eat your pie hot or cold. I prefer it cold. It doesn't need cream or ice cream or anything else. It is perfection; complete just the way it is. My sister, Steph, used to make individual mini lemon meringue tarts and they were really nice. The recipe is exactly the same but you'd cut small circles from the pastry and bake them for a shorter time in a jam tart pan (don't worry about the blind baking beans, but do prick the bottoms or they might puff up), then fill with little dollops of lemon curd and meringue mix, and bake them for a shorter time, until they turn beige.