Lemon meringue – Serves 4
This lemon pudding is like lemon meringue pie with no pastry. It is lemon sauce with meringue topping. This means the recipe is more nutritious in my opinion – less fat!
1 very large lemon or 2 small lemons (180g weight)
150ml boiling water
25g butter or margarine
40g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
60g caster sugar
- Preheat the oven 170°C/Gas 3.
- Blend the cornflour with a little cold water and add the lemon juice and rind. Stir in the boiling water and put in a saucepan with the butter and sugar. Stir until the sauce thickens and become clearer. Remove from heat, leave to cool.
- Whisk the egg whites until softly stiff and add the sugar carefully.
- Stir the egg yolks into the lemon sauce and pour into ramekins or an ovenproof dish.
- Spoon the meringue over the lemon filling and lift into peaks.
- Put the ramekins in a roasting tin with a little hot water to protect the lemon sauce during cooking.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the meringue is crisp and slightly golden. Serve hot or cold.
The science bit
There’s a lot of science going on in this dish.
The starch in the cornflour swells, absorbs the water and gelatinises. This makes a smooth, thickened, clear sauce.
The protein in the egg yolks, when heated in the oven, denatures, coagulates and forms a network through the sauce which makes it thicken a bit more.
The egg whites are beaten to form a foam. The egg white protein, albumen, uncoils and forms a network trapping the air.
When the meringue cooks, the air expands and pushes up the protein which denatures, coagulates and sets, forming the crisp meringue.
The cornflour and water mixture is thick for a short time, but breaks down with further heating and water is forced out. This process is known as retrogradation.
When cold, starch sets the mixture by a process of gelation.