27 November 2009

side project: coffee custard meringue pie

For Thanksgiving I decided to finally try out a recipe that I've been drooling over for months now, from my The World Encyclopedia of Coffee (by Mary Banks, Christine McFadden, Catherine Atkinson) book. The photo in the book, um, looks much more scrumptious than mine.

This recipe nearly KICKED MY ASS. Really: I ended up making the pastry twice (because I was distracted and left it in the oven faaaar too long), and the filling twice (because I was distracted by my ruined crust enough to not pay attention to the British names for ingredients). Before starting this, I figured the meringue would be the hardest part, since it was my first time ever making meringue. I was wrong. The meringue was the only part of the recipe I didn't have to do over. In the end, though, the thing came out just fine, and tasted lovely. Recipe below.

Notes for you American bakers:*
cornflour = corn starch
icing sugar = powdered sugar/confectioners sugar
caster sugar = substitute regular white, granulated sugar
demerara sugar = raw sugar

* And if any of you European bakers need the measurements in metric, let me know; the recipe gave the conversions.

Crunchy Topped Coffee Meringue Pie

Pastry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tbsp icing sugar
6 tbsp butter
1 egg yolk
finely grated rind of 1/2 orange
1 tbsp orange juice

Filling ingredients:
2 tbsp ground coffee
1 1/2 cups milk
4 tbsp cornflour
1/2 cup caster sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tbsp butter

Meringue ingredients:
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 skinned hazelnuts
1 tbsp demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk, orange rind and juice and mix to a firm dough. Wrap in clear film and chill for 20 minutes. Roll out and use to line a 9in loose-based fluted flan tin [note: I just used a regular pie pan]. Cover with clear film and chill for 30 minutes.

Prick the pastry all over, line with greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake for 15 minutes, removing the paper and beans for the last 5 minutes. Turn the oven to 325ºF.

To make the filling, put the coffee in a bowl. Heat 1 cup of the milk until near-boiling and pour over the coffee. Leave to infuse for 4 minutes, then strain. Blend the cornflour and sugar with the remaining milk in a pan and whisk in the coffee-flavoured milk.

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until thickened. Remove from the heat.

Beat the egg yolks. Stir in a little of the hot coffee mixture into the egg yolks, then add to the remaining coffee mixture with the butter. Cook the filling over a low heat for 3-4 minutes, until very thick. Pour into the pastry case.

To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff. Whisk in the caster sugar a spoonful at a time.

Spoon the meringue over the filling and spread right to the edge of the pastry, swirling into peaks. Sprinkle with hazelnuts and demerara sugar and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Serve warm, or cool on a wire rack and serve cold.

Tip: The pastry case can be made up to 36 hours in advance, but once filled and baked the pie should be eaten on the day of making.

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