Of all the renditions of lemon meringue pie, it’s my mum’s retro take that I return to. I love the way it oozes syrup and the digestive crust gets increasingly louche as the hours pass. A naughty spoonful of whipped cream is to be encouraged.
150g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for tin
280g digestive biscuits, broken up
zest and juice of 3 lemons
400g tin condensed milk
4 large eggs, separated
125g caster sugar
1. Butter the sides of a 20cm x 7cm deep cake tin with a removable base, and line with baking paper.
2. Reduce the digestive biscuits to a crumb-like consistency, either by placing them in a plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin, or in a food processor.
3. Transfer to a bowl, add the melted butter and toss to coat the crumbs. Now press the mixture into the tin, starting with the sides and taking these three-quarters of the way up. Don’t worry if the top seems a little ragged, but press firmly to the tin. Then do the base – the back of a pudding spoon is a help in pressing the crumbs into the corners.
4. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Before juicing the lemons, give them a firm roll on the work surface to release as much juice as possible. Combine the zest and juice with the condensed milk in a bowl, whisking until you have a smooth cream. Now whisk in the egg yolks and pour on top of the biscuit crust.
5. Whisk the egg whites using an electric whisk in a large clean bowl until they are stiff. Gradually sprinkle over the sugar, whisking well with each addition until you have a glossy, stiff meringue.
6. Mound the meringue mixture on top of the lemon filling, fluffing the surface with a spoon. Bake for 30-35 minutes, by which time the surface of the meringue should be lightly golden, and the custard below it set.
7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Run a knife around the collar to loosen the sides and remove the collar. You can cover and chill the lemon meringue pie until required, bringing it back up to room temperature before serving. It is best eaten the day it is made.
Recipe by Annie Bell. Food styling: Clare Lewis. Styling: Sue Radcliffe.