With forced rhubarb in season, I’ve come up with a recipe with this ingredient’s vibrant colour and flavour at its heart. A favoured dessert of my childhood was lemon meringue pie – albeit from the freezer aisle as my mum was not (and still isn’t) a keen cook – the sharp filling contrasting with the super-sweet meringue all held in a crisp(ish) pastry base. This version with rhubarb is super tasty and soon to become my new favourite!
Rhubarb Meringue Pie
for the pastry
- 150g plain flour, sifted
- 75g butter, chilled and cubed
- 30g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 medium egg, separated
for the rhubarb filling
- 400g rhubarb, sliced into 5mm slices
- 50g caster sugar
- 2 medium egg yolks
- 10g plain flour
- 10g cornflour
for the meringue
- 2 medium egg whites
- 100g caster sugar
Make the pastry: in a medium-sized bowl, rub the butter into the flour to form fine breadcrumbs then stir in the sugar. Beat the egg yolk with 1 tsp cold water then use a palette knife to cut it into the dry mixture, then press together to form a ball. Flatten the pastry into a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 15 minutes, to relax and firm up.
Bake the pastry: grease a 20cm round loose-bottomed or springform cake tin (about 5cm deep) then roll the pastry between a sheet of non-stick baking paper and the cling film to 3mm thick. Remove the paper (and retain) then lower the pastry into the tin, cling film facing up, and smooth around the sides. Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes and preheat the oven to 190°C (180°C fan)/375°F/gas mark 5.
Remove the cling film and trim the edges of the pastry in line with the sides of the tin. Prick the base with a fork, line with the retained paper (this is easiest to do after scrunching up the paper and flattening it back out a few times) then fill with baking beans. Place the tin on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes before removing the beans and paper then bake for a further 10 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Brush the inside of the pastry case with the egg white and return to oven for 2 minutes to set (this forms a moisture-barrier between the pastry and the filling). Leave the pastry case in the tin and place on a wire rack to cool whilst preparing the filling.
Make the filling: place the sliced rhubarb in a medium pan with the sugar and cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for about ten minutes until tender. Strain the rhubarb into a sieve, catching the juice in another saucepan and reserving the pulp. Return the juice to the heat and bring to the boil. Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks with the flours and 1 tablespoon of water in a heatproof bowl until smooth. Once the juice comes the boil, pour it into the egg mixture, stirring continuously with a whisk to prevent the eggs scrambling.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring continuously with a whisk. Boil for two minutes until the mixture has thickened considerably, keep stirring and scrape the bottom of the pan so the mixture doesn’t catch. Stir in the pulp then transfer to a wide, shallow dish and cover with cling film, sticking it right to the surface of the filling to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool to room temperature (place in the fridge if not assembling the pie straightaway).
Make the meringue: place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk to soft peaks using a hand-held electric mixer (or do this a freestanding mixer). Gradually whisk in the sugar until all has been added and the egg whites form stiff peaks. Spoon the meringue into a large piping bag.
Assemble the pie: spread the cooled filling evenly over the base of the pastry case. Pipe the meringue on top and use a blowtorch (or a hot grill) to brown the surface of the meringue.