Not so sure how many people remember good old Sara Lee, but I sure as hell haven’t forgotten her lemon meringue pie nor her chocolate gateaux, such 90s classics. The lemon meringue in particular brings back memories of barbecues at my parents’…so many variations of seasoned meats, but the only part I was looking forward to was the end, when my parents (who obviously could not be arsed to make us a pudding) brought out a couple of boxes of Sara Lee’s finest, and dammit could I have eaten the lot had there not been other greedy guests or family members present.
Moving on from those times, I have ventured far and wide and experienced my fair share of lemon meringue pies, but I have yet to come across one that is as memorable as Sara’s. However, I’ve not actually had her lemon meringue pie since living at home with my parents as a kid, so the risk of trying it now is that it will taste like shit and my memories of family BBQs will be tarnished by this terrible dessert that my parents forced us to end our meals with back in the day…so I’d rather just cherish the memory I have of the taste and move on. That way, if I’m disappointed, it won’t negatively impact on how I feel about the past. Ok, that makes sense in my head (I’m not proof-reading this paragraph in case it requires some heavy editing).
What I’m trying to say is that Sara Lee’s pie holds a place close to my heart and despite its lack of refined taste, I still have a sense of longing to imitate it. Of course deconstructing mine doesn’t resemble its vintage counterpart, but it allows me to focus on each individual component from the lemon curd all the way to the biscuit base which means the analysis stage can be conducted with more accuracy and precision – tasting each single part before putting it together, surely that’s the ultimate test.
A wonderfully, chewy, sticky meringue, followed by a tart creamy lemon curd finished with a smooth crunch from the pastry. If I had to compare mine to the Sara Lee pud, I could confidently say that the meringue I produced is somewhat refined in terms of texture, but my pastry is a bit of a cheat as it’s closer to crumble topping than to shortcrust, so maybe they’re even.
Ingredients for meringue:
- 4 egg whites
- 1tsp lemon juice
- 150g caster sugar
Ingredients for lemon curd:
- 2 eggs
- Juice and zest of 2 lemons
- 50ml rapeseed oil
- 200g sugar
Ingredients for crumble base:
- 150g plain flour
- 100g butter
- 50g sugar
- Preheat oven to 100C.
- For the meringue, whisk the egg whites until stiff opaque white peaks form.
- Gradually whisk in the sugar and lemon juice until glossy.
- Using a piping bag, pipe half on the meringue mixture in any shape or form on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
- Place in the oven for 1.5-2 hours.
- The other half can be cooked separately but for half the time or piped directly onto the pie or plate and browned with a blowtorch.
- For the lemon curd, heat the lemon juice, zest, oil and sugar over a double boiler until the sugar has dissolved.
- Slowly whisk in the eggs until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon then remove from the heat and cool.
- For the crumble, mix the butter and flour together with finger tips to make crumbs.
- Mix the sugar into the crumble and then bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes until golden.
- Assemble to make your pie.
Enjoy your constructed deconstruction and savour each part individually.