Sunday, 29 June 2008

Rhubarb meringue pie

I have always loved the concept of lemon meringue pie; it looks gorgeous - like a cloud has landed in a pie plate - and you get lots of different flavours and textures in a single slice. In fact, the only thing holding me back from forming a lifelong love affair with lemon meringue pie is the small matter of my lemon loathing. I may well have found the answer.

There’s no need to pipe the meringue but I’m obsessed with piping everything at the moment:

Rhubarb provides the same tart contrast as lemon does to the sweet sticky meringue and, as the CCD (Caked Crusader’s Da) had harvested the last of the summer’s rhubarb crop it seemed wrong to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Here’s the rhubarb waiting to be covered in a duvet of meringue:

Rhubarb, left to its own devices, is very tart – mouth puckeringly so. What interested me with this recipe was that you use a combination of sugar and orange juice to sweeten the rhubarb. The orange juice worked beautifully and seemed to bring out a delightful depth of flavour in the rhubarb. It was intriguing as the first ‘hit’ of flavour was the tart rhubarb then the sweet orange came through and left you with a fresh citrus taste.

The rhubarb filling sets very firm allowing lovely crisp slices to be cut:

I served it with thick cream, but in truth, it didn’t need it (believe me, this is not a comment I make lightly!).

For the pastry:
173g plain flour
120g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons icing sugar
2 egg yolks - keep the whites for the meringue!
Plus, a further 2 egg yolks for sealing the pastry after baking blind – keep the whites for the meringue!

For the rhubarb filling:
675g rhubarb, chopped
75g caster sugar
Juice of 3 oranges (if you want to use bottle juice, this amounts to 250ml)
75g cornflour
1 egg yolk

For the meringue:
4 egg whites – saved from the stages above!
175g caster sugar

To serve: whipped cream

How to make:

- First make the pastry. Place the flour, icing sugar and butter in either a food processor or mixer and blend until the texture fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg yolks and mix until the dough comes together.
- Using your hands, make the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten slightly then wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/400°F/Gas mark 6.
- Grease a 23cm fluted flan tin and then roll the pastry out and use to line the tin. I roll my pastry out between two sheets of baking paper as this eliminates the need to dust the surface with flour.
- Once in the tin, cover the pastry with either baking paper or non stick foil and weigh down with baking beans.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the baking beans and paper and brush the pastry with the two beaten egg yolks. This will seal the pastry and stop it becoming soggy from the juicy rhubarb.
- Return the pastry, uncovered, to the oven for a further 15 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- While the pastry is cooking, make the rhubarb filling. Put the chopped rhubarb in a large pan with the sugar. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for five minutes. Then remove the lid and keep cooking until the rhubarb softens. Rhubarb collapses when it cooks and that’s what you’re aiming for – you don’t want any hard lumps left. Stir every now and again to encourage the rhubarb to break down.
- Mix the cornflour with the orange juice. Remove the rhubarb from the heat and stir in the orange juice/cornflour mixture.
- Return the pan to the heat and bring to the boil stirring all the time. This will thicken the rhubarb.
- When the rhubarb is at boiling point, cook it for a further 2 minutes then remove from the heat.
- Allow to cool slightly before beating in the egg yolk. If you do this straightaway the egg might scramble so be patient!
- Pour the rhubarb into the pastry case. You can make the dish up to this point the day before serving. Let the rhubarb cool in the pastry case then cover and chill. If you make the meringue the day before it might weep.
- Finally, make the meringue topping. Whisk the three egg whites until the soft peak stage.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C/fan oven 130°C/300°F/Gas mark 2
- Continue to whisk and add the sugar gradually until it is fully incorporated.
- Whisk until the stiff peak stage before spreading or piping over the rhubarb.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until the meringue is crisp on the outside and golden brown.
- Serve either warm or at room temperature but definitely with cream!
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.


glamah16 said...

What a nice variation. Rhubarb would work beautifully!

Cakelaw said...

Yummo! This looks and sounds delicious. I have made a sweet on sweet combination - berry meringue pie - that I am about to post about - I love anything with fluffy meringue.

Dee said...

Gorgeous! It's really not fair of you to tease your readers like this ;)

Mike of Mike's Table said...

That is a beauty of a pie right there. The meringue looks playful and the rhubarb filling sounds like the perfect filling.

Emiline said...

Oooh, how fabulous is that? It looks so dreamy and delicious.

Swati: Sugarcraft India said...

I love the way your tart has baked..Just perfect!!
Rhubarb is new to me as its not found in India..Love the swirls on top!!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say, I've been using your recipe for years -- a certain friend, when asked if I can bring something for pudding will invariably reply 'rhubarbmeringuepie'!