American Lime Pie
A beautifully light and refreshing pie, this has a crisp, biscuit-like pastry, cool and creamy filling, and fluffy meringue, all set off with a touch of hot stem ginger. You’ll need a small blowtorch to brown the meringue topping.
|For the sweet pastry:|
|1 tbsp||ground ginger|
|pinch of salt|
|180g||unsalted butter, chilled and diced|
|3||large free-range egg yolks|
|About 2 tbsp||icy water|
|For the filling:|
|4||pieces stem ginger in syrup, drained and finely chopped|
|6||limes, finely grated zest and juice|
|1 x 397g||tin condensed milk|
|4||large free-range egg yolks|
|300ml||double cream, well chilled|
|For the Italian meringue:|
|4||large free-range egg whites, at room temperature|
|1 x 30cm||loose-based flan tin; a piping bag fitted with a 2cm plain tube; a blowtorch|
|2||limes, thinly sliced|
|A few||small sprigs of mint|
You will need a 1 x 30cm loose-based flan tin, a piping bag fitted with a 2cm plain tube and a blowtorch
To make the pastry, sift the flour, icing sugar, ginger and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the diced butter and rub in until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Mix the yolks with the icy water and stir in with a round-bladed knife to make a soft but not sticky dough; add more water if necessary. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for about 20 minutes until firm.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured worktop to a circle about 37cm across and the thickness of a pound coin. Use to line the flan tin. Prick the base of the pastry case with a fork and chill for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
Bake the pastry case ‘blind’; after removing the paper and beans, reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 before baking for a further 8–10 minutes until the pastry is a light golden brown. Leave to cool but do not unmould.
For the filling, scatter the chopped ginger over the base of the pastry case. Set aside half of the lime zest for the decoration and put the rest into a mixing bowl with the juice, condensed milk and yolks. Whisk with a wire whisk for a couple of minutes until the mixture thickens slightly.
Whip the cream just until it falls in a thick ribbon-like trail from the whisk (the stage before soft peak), then fold into the lime mixture using a large metal spoon - the mixture will thicken considerably. Pour into the pastry case and chill for about 1 hour until firm.
Next, make the Italian meringue by putting the sugar and water into a medium pan and heat gently, stirring frequently, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil steadily, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 120°C/248°F on a sugar thermometer (make sure the thermometer isn’t touching the bottom of the pan, otherwise it will give an incorrect reading and your meringue will separate later.)
While the syrup is cooking, put the egg whites into a spotlessly clean and grease-free, large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form when the beaters are lifted. As soon as the syrup reaches the correct temperature, pour it in a steady stream onto the egg whites (not down the sides of the bowl), beating on the highest possible speed. Whisk until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Spoon the meringue into the piping bag.
Unmould the pie and set it on a serving platter. Pipe the meringue in a thick rope of continuous loops around the edge of the pie.
Use a kitchen blowtorch to lightly brown and highlight the meringue curves. Decorate with lime slices, the remaining lime zest and sprigs of mint. Serve immediately or keep chilled until serving. Best eaten the same day, but can be kept, well wrapped, overnight in the fridge.