Luscious Lemon Meringue Pie
Nothing says summer like lemons and I’m thrilled to share this sweet treat with you, which is pure sunshine on a plate!
You can thank my mother-in-law for this pie. Vegan, marathon runner and cross-stitch queen, she’s an all-round inspiration. When she said she was keen to make a vegan version of lemon meringue pie – one of her all time favourite recipes – I made it my mission to come up with something. I mean I can’t run a marathon (I can’t really run for a bus to be fair) but I make a good pie. This vegan lemon meringue pie is adapted from a recipe she used for many years prior to being vegan, and I promise you it’s a winner.
The meringue is made using aquafaba (miraculous chickpea water – not quite as weird as it sounds) and is surprisingly straightforward – although, and I can’t stress this enough, you will absolutely need an electric whisk to create that big glossy cloud of fluffy meringue!
Although aquafaba meringue is fragile and prone to cracking much more easily than egg-based meringue, I actually find it far less temperamental in the initial stages. You just place everything in the mixing bowl and it’ll come together like magic. I posted a vegan pavlova recipe last year: Malabi Rose & Raspberry Vegan Pavlova. Please check out the link for a little more information about this magical ingredient!
This isn’t the quickest bake to make as there are several steps involved; you’ll need to make the pastry, lemon filling and the meringue and also allow time for resting, blind-baking and finally a long, low-heat stint in the oven. It is totally worth it though! The best time to make this pie would be early in the morning, so it has a chance to chill before you need to serve it.
You will need a 9″ loose-bottomed tart/quiche tin, and an electric whisk!
For the pastry (You can use ready-made if you prefer, most supermarket shortcrust is vegan):
200g plain flour
80g vegan butter (Stork or Flora Buttery is great)
30ml lemon juice
30ml cold water
For the Lemon Filling:
200g caster sugar
1/4 tsp turmeric
115ml lemon juice* (approx 4 lemons + zest)
200ml non-dairy milk (any)
60g vegan butter
For The Meringue Topping:
100g aquafaba taken from a tin of chickpeas – unsalted only please! (I always use Napolina)
125g caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp xanthan gum (you can usually find this in the free-from section in supermarkets, or health shops)
Make the Pastry:
Need a more in-depth guide to making pastry? Click here to see my step-by-step guide, with photographs, to making perfect shortcrust pastry.
Using a food processor, briefly process the flour and butter until it looks sandy, then slowly pour in the combined lemon juice and water with the motor running slowly. Stop when the dough starts to clump. Tip the mixture on to a clean surface and pat it together, forming a disc with your hands. Put it on a plate, cover and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
You can then roll out the pastry and press into your tin. I like to leave the overhanging bits as they are – this helps avoid shrinkage and will be trimmed off later. Put the tin in the fridge for 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 180c / 350f / gas mark 4.
After 20 minutes resting time, place the tin on to a baking sheet, prick it all over with a fork then bake for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool (and carefully slice off any overhanging pastry while it is still warm).
Make The Lemon Filling:
Now you can move on to the filling. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornflour and turmeric, then pour in the lemon juice and zest. Combine until you have a paste, then over a medium-low heat, slowly add the milk. Keep stirring the whole time; it will start to bubble and thicken. Allow about five minutes of very gentle bubbling then whisk in the butter until it is smooth and creamy.
Pour the lemon filling into your blind-baked pastry and set aside while you make the meringue.
To Make The Meringue:
Set the oven temperature to 120c / 250 fahrenheit. To make the meringue, simply stir together the aquafaba, sugar, cream of tartar and xanthan gum in a mixing bowl until the powders look evenly dispersed, then whisk on high for 8-10 minutes until you have a thick, glossy meringue.
It is possible to do this using a hand-held electric whisk, however I like to put my stand mixer on the highest setting then take a step back with my earplugs in – and I strongly recommend you do the same!
When the meringue is ready, spoon it on to your prepared pie then place in the middle of the oven and cook for approximately 2 1/2 – 3 hours, until crispy to the touch.
Transfer to a cooling rack until completely cold then store it, covered, in the fridge.
This is best eaten within 24 hours as the meringue does not hold its shape as well as its eggy counterpart.