Thursday, 25 August 2011

Key Lime Pie

Sadly, despite having family in Florida and having been there multiple times when I was little, I am still yet to try an authentic key lime pie. The version made with 'Persian limes' - the ones you find very easily in supermarkets - is awesome, but undoubtedly just not the same as one made with the slightly more tart key limes that are really only found throughout Florida keys.

Apparently it's traditionally a 'no-bake' pie as the egg yolks and condensed milk combo mean the filling sets pretty well by itself, but the old 'health and safety' has since kicked in and seen to the end of that.

Both times I've done this, I've used the Hummingbird recipe, and the pie has turned out really well. This was another friend's birthday present, a special request as she so thoroughly enjoyed the one I made for a Spanish lesson.

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F
Grease a 23-cm pie dish

For the crust:
Pound 500g digestive biscuits to form fine crumbs.
Slowly pour 200g melted unsalted butter into the processor while the motor is still running. Once well combined, press this mixture into the base and up the sides of the pie dish, using your hands or a spoon to squash it all together. Personally, I find this to be far too much crust for the size of the pie dish, but of course you can adjust accordingly to whatever dish you use, how much crust you like etc etc.

Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until deep golden and firm. Leave to cool completely.

Meanwhile prepare your deliciously tangy yet smooth filling.

8 egg yolks
2x 397 tins condensed milk
zest and juice of five limes (DO NOT use bottled lime juice, you want as much freshness in there as possible)
extra zest for decoration

Whisk all of the above together with a balloon whisk until the mixture becomes very thick. Pour into the cold pie crust and bake for 20-30 minutes. Easy peasy lemon (or should I say lime?) squeezy.

After cooling for at least one hour, or overnight for those of you blessed with copious amounts of patience, either slather the pie with froths of double cream that have been whipped to soft peaks, and sprinkle over the remaining lime zest to decorate, OR go down the less traditional route and top with meringue.

To do this, first turn the oven down to 150C/300F - I'm going on the basis that you don't have the patience of a saint here...

6 egg whites
330g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cream of tartar (my addition, it helps the meringue go lovely and crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside)

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks start to form, then slowly whisk in the sugar, two tablespoons at a time. Somewhere along the line drop in the cream of tartar too. 

As a side note, always make sure you put the sugar in at the sides of the bowl as the egg whites are whisking. If you simply dump it on top of the egg whites, you'll only squash out the air, leading to pancakes of meringues. Finally, whisk in the vanilla extract, and keep going until beautifully shiny stiffly upright peaks have formed.

Spoon this mixture on top of the pie, being sure to cover the filling completely. Create peaks and swirls as you like in the meringue, be as elaborate as you like! Just don't play around with it too much otherwise, again, you'll squish the air out. 

Bake in the oven for approx 20 minutes, or until the meringue is 'golden brown and crisp to the touch,' so says the recipe book. 

Cool completely before serving.

This is so good. Try it.

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