There’s little more indulgent than lemon meringue. It’s a huge South African favourite! Whether it’s a lemon meringue cake, pie or tart you’re after – that sweet and sour sugar high is guaranteed to be an experience you’ll want to repeat….again and again…just one more heavenly bite!
What is lemon meringue?
If you haven’t already had this particular taste encounter, do your mouth a favour and skip to the bottom of this article for our choice in sinfully easy lemon meringue recipes.
Okay, so. Lemon meringue is most frequently enjoyed as a type of baked pie and it’s usually served as dessert. Although, no one would judge you for making a slice of lemon meringue pie into a meal all on its own. As far as pies go, if you love shortcrust pastry, this one is going to be a winner for you. With its lemony custard filling and fluffy peaks of meringue on top, this dessert hits all the right notes even if you don’t have a serious sweet tooth.
Is there history behind the lemon meringue, or is it a South African thing?
Not strictly a South African delicacy (although South Africans are incredibly enthusiastic about lemon meringue), humans have been flavouring custards, puddings and pies with lemon for as long as we can remember. The theory is that Ancient Greeks are responsible for the lemon pie as we know it today, but it wasn’t until the 17th century that the meringue was perfected.
What’s so special about meringue?
It’s tricky to get right. The meringue, which includes well beaten egg whites and sugar, is cooked on top of the pie filling and as it bakes, air bubbles inside the egg white expand. You won’t know whether you’ve got it right until you take it out of the oven; but if the egg whites are beaten too much, or if a tiny amount of fat contaminates the mixture, the meringue is going to be a total flop as the egg white proteins will not be able to form the correct molecular structure when cooked. Additionally, the temperature at which the pie is baked, and the method by which sugar is added also determines the texture and durability of the meringue – which just goes to show you how much of a science baking really is!
Easy Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe
Lemon Meringue Ingredients
For the crust:
- 400g Tennis Biscuits (2 packs)
- 150g melted butter
For the filling:
- 2 x 385g condensed milk
- 250ml (1 cup) lemon juice
- 6 extra large eggs, separated
For the top layer:
- 6 extra large egg whites
- 375 ml (1½ cups) castor sugar
- pinch of salt
Lemon Meringue cooking Method
Preheat the oven to 160 °C.
To make the filling :
- To make the crust, crush the biscuits in the food processor until fine.
- Add melted butter slowly, until the biscuit crumbs stick together without being soggy.
- Spread the crumb mixture onto the base and up the sides of a 22cm springform pan.
- Pour the condensed milk and lemon juice in a mixing bowl.
- Use a fork to beat the egg yolks well, and mix well once you’ve added the condensed milk mixture.
- Pour the wet mixture onto the crust and bake for 15 minutes.
To make the top layer :
- Whisk the egg whites until they’re stiff.
- While you’re whisking, add the castor sugar and salt a little bit at a time until the mixture goes stiff and foamy.
- Spoon the meringue onto the filling and fluff it up with a spatula.
- Bake again for 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown on top.
Serve after it has cooled.
Easy Lemon Meringue Cake Recipe
Lemon Meringue Cake Ingredients
- 1 box lemon or yellow cake mix (yes, it’s cheating but it’s smart cheating!)
- 1 cup water
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup canola oil
For the filling:
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 4 teaspoons butter
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
For the meringue:
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3/4 cup sugar
Lemon Meringue cake cooking Method
- Combine the cake mix, eggs, water and oil in a large bowl and beat on low speed for 30 seconds and then on a medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Pour into two greased and floured 22cm springform cake pans and bake at 180°C for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre.
- Cool for 10 mins before moving from cake pans to wire racks.
- To make the filling, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a large saucepan and stir in water and juice until smooth.
- Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly.
- Reduce heat to low; cook and stir for 2 minutes longer and then remove from heat.
- Stir a small amount of hot filling into egg yolks; return all to the pan, while stirring constantly.
- Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes before removing from heat and gently stirring in the butter and lemon zest. Cool completely.
- To make the meringue, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.
- Gradually beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form.
- Cut each cake horizontally into two layers.
- Place the bottom layer on an ovenproof serving plate; spread with a third of the filling.
- Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining cake layer.
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