Lemons have been used in cooking since medieval times but the meringue was not perfected until the 17th Century. Lemon custard was said to be invented by the Quakers in the late 1700s and Lemon Meringue pie as we know it today was created by pastry chef Elizabeth Goodwell in Philladelphia 1806 and has become a classic dessert enjoyed across America, Australia and Europe.Some argue that the first lemon meringue pie was made in the mid 19th Century by AlexandreFrehse, so the exact origins of the classic recipe are unknown. Legend has it that the word meringue came from the Swiss town of Meringen, birthplace of the Swiss pastry cook Gasparini who was said to have invented them.
To make lemon meringue pie it is best to follow an easy lemon meringue recipe, as there are several components to making the pie, consisting of individual recipes for the short-crust pastry, lemon curd filling and meringue topping. The traditional lemon meringue pie recipe uses corn-flour to give the curd a creamy thickness and instructs the meringues to be whisked until they form stiff peaks; if the bowl can be help over your head without accident then they are the perfect consistency. Making the perfect lemon meringue pie is said to be determined by the temperature the pie is baked at and the method to which the sugar is added.
Some home-baked lemon meringue recipes use a biscuit base instead of short-crust pastry, giving the base a cheesecake-like crumbly texture. Arrowroot biscuits are said to be a popular and delicious alternative. For additional sweetness, condensed milk is often used on top of the biscuit base to thicken the consistency of the finished pie.
A twist on the classic lemon meringue dessert is lemon meringue cheesecake which captures the tart flavours in a creamy cheesecake and makes a light and delicious summer dessert.
To make your own lemon meringue pie, pavlova or lemon meringue cheesecake, check out MyDish for a tart and tempting range of lemon desserts.