Lemon Meringue pie, Clouds from the oven

Foodie recipe
Ian Leatt

As the years have progressed there are certain times I sit and reflect on my learnings of yesteryear, my memory racing at the happy times I spent with my grandmother in the kitchen. So many dishes I make lean to her teachings.

My memories always make me smile. Gran may have been strict and come across as harsh at times, but it was a very different world then. She was after all, born in 1908! Although the world has moved on at an outstanding pace, food in itself has not! It may now be presented in a more colourful vibrant way, but in essence the ingredients are still the same that Gran once learnt to use back in the mid 1920s. 

This leads me to her Lemon Meringue pie. I recall how the first time I tried it, that instant sharp tangy sour taste, being offset with the sweetness of hot meringue, surrounded with short-crust pastry was like a miracle exploding in my mouth. I was never allowed to have seconds – honestly, there were never any leftovers – but if I could have I most certainly would have. 

Lemon Meringue pie

For the pastry
1 ½ cups all-purpose
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 shortening
1 tablespoon of fine sugar
1/3 cup of warm water

For the lemon filling
5 large egg yolks (whites for the meringue)
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Meringue
5 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
½ cup fine sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar


The Pastry: Combine the flour and sugar together in a large bowl, mix together thoroughly. Add the butter and shortening and blend together using your fingers, mix well until it resembles bread crumbs.

Add half of the water to the mixture. Kneed together. Pinch the dough with your fingers, if it is too dry, add more warm water until the dough blends together but is not too sticky. 

Dust the counter top and roll out the dough, then place inside the tin. Prick with a fork (this will help stop the pastry from bubbling up) then place inside the middle of the oven, on 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, or until the pastry turns a light golden colour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. 

The filling: Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. Set aside. Whisk the water, sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice, and lemon zest together in a saucepan over medium heat. As the mixture warms up it will eventually begin thickening and bubbling. Once thickened reduce heat to low.

Very slowly add three tablespoons of the warm lemon mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Then, slowly, whisk the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan. Turn heat back up to medium. Cook the lemon mixture until thick bubbles begin bursting through. Remove the pan from heat and blend in the butter. Spread the filling into the warm, partially baked crust.

Make the meringue: Whisk the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar together on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue beating on high speed until glossy stiff peaks form. Spread meringue on top of filling. Make sure you spread the meringue all the way to the edges so that it touches the crust. This helps prevent the meringue from weeping. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the meringue is browned on top. There you have your own clouds from the oven. 

This one is a real keeper. I love it nice and hot, but many prefer cold. Your choice as always. 

Ian Leatt is general manager of Pegasus Publications and a trained chef.