Blood Orange and Rhubarb Meringue Pie
This spring is seeing a bumper crop of new cookery books of which Catherine Phipps' Citrus is one of the most enticing ...
If you want to take advantage of the rhubarb and blood oranges that are in the shops at the moment you couldn't find a better way to use them.
Cat writes: "Most meringue pies use a sweet pastry, but as I find the meringue so sweet, I think it is better served with a very buttery shortcrust (pie dough), so I take out the sugar.
The butter in the filling is optional – it’s not always used and I think it adds a richness, making the filling more like curd and less like custard."
Blood Orange and Rhubarb Meringue Pie
For the pastry
225g/1 ¾ cups plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
150g/2/3 cup butter, chilled and diced
1 egg yolk
A pinch of salt
For the filling
400g/14oz rhubarb, preferably the pink forced kind, cut into short (2cm/ ¾ -in) lengths
60g/1⁄₃ cup caster (superfine) sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 blood oranges and juice of up to 4 blood oranges
1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
3 egg yolks
30g/1 tbsp butter (optional)
For the meringue topping
4 egg whites (left from pastry and filling)
225g/1 ¼ cups caster (superfine) sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
First make the pastry. Either whiz the flour and butter in a food processor or rub in by hand until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then add the egg yolk and salt. Mix briefly, adding a little chilled water if necessary, until you can bring the pastry together into a ball – it should need no more than a tablespoon. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and use to line a pie dish (between 21 and 23cm/8 and 9in in diameter). Prick all over with a fork, then line with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the beans and bake for a further 5 minutes or so until the pastry is a light golden brown. Remove from the oven.
To make the filling, put the rhubarb into a baking dish, sprinkle with the sugar and orange zest and roast in the oven for 30–35 minutes, stirring every so often – if youare organized you can cook this at the same time as you are blind baking the pastry. Strain the rhubarb juice into a measuring jug and set aside the solids. Add enough blood orange juice to make up the rhubarb juice to 250ml/1 cup plus 1 tbsp.
Use a small amount of the liquid to whisk the cornflour (cornstarch) into a thin paste in a bowl, and heat the rest in a medium saucepan. When the liquid is hot, pour some of it over the cornflour mixture, whisking constantly, then pour this back into the saucepan. Stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens – this is likely to happen very suddenly. Add the egg yolks and butter, if using, and continue to whisk. Remove from the heat and stir through the reserved rhubarb. Pour into the cooked pastry case. If you have time, leave it to cool and chill down completely as it will help the texture enormously and prevent possible separation.
To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until well aerated and just starting to form stiff peaks. Continuing to whisk, add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until the meringue is beautifully stiff and glossy, then add the remaining sugar all at once, and sprinkle in the cream of tartar. Pipe or pile the meringue over the filling.
Bake in the oven for around 15–20 minutes until the meringue is a dappled golden brown. I love this both hot and cold and I don’t think it needs any embellishment.
What to drink: You want a really sweet wine with good acidity with this delicious pie. I suggest a young late harvest riesling or a Canadian ice wine. FB
From CITRUS: Recipes that celebrate the sour and the sweet by Catherine Phipps (Quadrille, £20.00) Photography: Mowie Kay
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