1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks/8 oz./226g) unsalted butter, chilled and finely chopped
5 eggs, separated
Juice (1/3 cup) and grated rind of 2 lemons
12 oz. superfine baker's sugar or caster sugar
1. Process flour, 3 1/2 oz. butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add 1 egg yolk and 3-4 tbsp. cold water and pulse until mixture just comes together. Form pastry into 4 discs, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Roll out pastry discs, 1 at a time, until 1/8-inch thick, then line 4 non-stick (3 1/2-inch base, 1/12-inch deep) miniature pie pans. Using a small knife, trim pastry flush with edge of dishes, then prick bottoms with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Place chilled crusts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool.
3. Whisk lemon rind, 1/3 cup lemon juice, remaining egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar in a large, heatproof bowl until well combined, then add remaining butter. Bring a saucepan of water to a simmer over medium heat. Place bowl on top and stir lemon curd with a wooden spoon for 10-12 minutes or until thick. Cover surface of curd with plastic wrap and allow to cool.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C.
5. Place remaining sugar and 1/2 cup water in a stainless-steel saucepan, then cook, stirring, over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium, then, using a clean, wet pastry brush, brush down sides of pan. Cook until syrup reaches 250 degrees F/121 degrees C or firm ball stage on a sugar thermometer* (see note). Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites until firm peaks form. While whisking, slowly pour sugar syrup into whites and whisk until combined and cool.
6. To assemble pies, carefully remove pastry from pie pans and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Fill pie crusts with curd, then top with meringue. Bake in preheated 400 degree F/200 degree C oven for 5 minutes or until meringue is golden brown.
Makes 4 mini pies.
To test the sugar syrup has reached the correct stage without a sugar thermometer, drop a spoonful into a glass of ice-cold water: it should form a pliable ball that softens as it warms.
Date: September 17, 2006