Lemon meringue pies

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 10 people

  • 250 ml juice and finely grated rind of 6 lemons
  • 250 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
  • 5 eggs
  • 360 gm caster sugar
  • 3 gelatine leaves (titanium strength), soaked in cold water
  • 5 eggwhites
  •  
  • Sweet pastry
  • 250 gm plain flour
  • 50 gm almond meal
  • 120 gm unsalted butter, softened
  • 80 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  •  
  • Lemon syrup
  • 5 lemons, juice and zested rind only
  • 220 gm (1 cup) caster sugar
01   For sweet pastry, preheat oven to 160C. Sift flour and a pinch of salt together, then combine with almond meal and set aside. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until pale and creamy, add egg and beat well. Add flour mixture and mix until dough starts to form (1-2 minutes). Turn onto a lightly floured surface, knead lightly until smooth, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Roll on a lightly floured surface to 3-4mm thick and line ten 10cm-diameter fluted tart tins. Blind bake until light golden (10-15 minutes), remove paper and weights and cook until dry (5-7 minutes), then cool.
02   Meanwhile, for lemon syrup, combine lemon juice, sugar and 250ml water in a saucepan and stir over medium heat to dissolve sugar, then bring to the boil. Meanwhile, blanch lemon zest in boiling water, drain, add to syrup and cook until syrup reduces by half and zest is tender (35-40 minutes), then cool to room temperature.
03   Combine lemon juice, rind and butter in a heavy-based saucepan and bring slowly to the simmer over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, whisk eggs and 250gm sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (10-15 minutes), then with motor running, gradually add hot lemon mixture, whisking to combine. Place over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring continuously until mixture thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon (15-20 minutes). Squeeze excess water from gelatine, add to lemon mixture, stir to combine, then strain through a fine sieve into a bowl placed over ice and stir occasionally until beginning to set. Divide among tart cases and smooth tops.
04   Whisk eggwhites and remaining sugar in a heatproof bowl over gently simmering water until sugar dissolves (2-3 minutes). Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on medium speed until glossy and soft peaks form (2-3 minutes), spoon over lemon curd and, using the back of a fork, make peaks in the meringue. Using a blow torch, lightly scorch meringue and serve immediately with lemon syrup.
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