Saturday, 1 September 2012

HUNGOVER AGAIN: Lemon Custard Pie

I will at some point get to grips with my nemesis. Pastry. On any of the occasions I have handled anything remotely pastry-like it has determinedly misbehaved; falling apart, drying out, or becoming almost inedibly hard. I know it’s supposedly simple once you get the hang of it, but that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe there will be a Eureka moment after which I’ll be whipping up little pastries left right and centre before being heaved to the nearest bariatric ward, but until then I’ll avoid making it where possible until the craving takes over. 
'Cream' melted cause I was too impatient for it to cool properly.
 Due to a pretty epic hangover, the other weekend I couldn’t stop thinking about pie. An American pie. Specifically some sort of lemon pie, so I trotted off to the shops to stare numbly at shelves, aimlessly circle aisles three times and think everyone was staring at me. Knowing my limits, I bought a ready-made sweet short-crust pasty block. If you’re gonna pick a day to learn pastry, don’t pick the day after you thought it was a good idea to drink a double whiskey with every beer. 

 The supposedly foolproof dough was no match for me and a patchwork job was necessary but even with the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’ and slightly over-browned edges it hit the spot.  The filling was comforting, with a hint of lemon flavour running through the firm and silky custard though when I make this again I’ll ramp up the lemon zing with extra zest.  The cream topping wasn’t actually cream it was Elmlea, as surprise surprise I’d forgotten to get extra earlier and for some reason none of the corner shops near our flat stock anything else! It was passable even if it did take brute force to whip. 

All in all, this wasn’t perfect, but it did the job and given the state I was in I’m still proud. 
Lemon Custard Pie (adaptedfrom

500 g block of sweet shortcrust pastry
1 cup sugar
Lemon zest from 2 unwaxed lemons
¼ cup water
¾ cup double cream
Big pinch salt
5 large egs
½ cup lemon juice

1)    Roll out your dough to about a pound coin thickness and blind bake in a 9 inch pie pan. This is a good set of instructions
2)    Make lemon custard filling: Reduce oven temperature to 160 degrees celcius.Pulse sugar and zest in a food processor until zest is finely chopped, then add to a small saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then boil, without stirring, 5 minutes. Stir in cream and salt, then cook until hot (do not let boil).
3)    Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add hot cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly, then whisk in lemon juice.
4)    Strain custard through a fine sieve into another bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon to get out all the goodness, then pour into crust.
5)    Bake until filling is set 2 inches from edge but centre is still wobbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely (or get impatient and add fake whipped cream then regret it when it melts a bit).

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