Last week was only great. All my fretting about the wobbli-ness of my crème caramels paid off and I was chosen as the Week 4 winner of the Great Irish Bake Off. Chuffed does not come close to describing how I felt. The challenge for Week 5 was to make an American classic, Key Lime Pie. Given the challenge in sourcing Key Limes in Ireland, the parameters were relaxed to a Lime Pie. I love limes (mainly in cocktails), so I was very much looking forward to this challenge. I decided to use a recipe from the classic Delia Smith.
I made a sweet shortcrust pastry following the recipe from one of my staple references, Michel Roux's Pastry. This book is currently selling for a mere £6.99 on Amazon, and if you don't have it on your bookshelf, then you really should. (You can of course, take the cleaner and simpler option and buy a good, chilled pre-prepared shortcrust pastry). Once the pastry was chilling in the fridge, I headed for brunch at Beckett & Bull, followed by a pitstop for pie ingredients.
Only one thing went wrong during my bake - just one thing. But of course, it had a major impact on the whole adventure. I pulled out the ring from my 23cm pie tin, but I couldn't find the flipping bottom. I turned the cupboard upside down, but it was no where to be found. Given that we have a tiny kitchen, losing the base was a major achievement. Anyway, I resorted to my bigger pie tin, but this meant that ultimately I would have a thinner pie, not the deep luxurious fill I had envisioned.
|Lime slices - ready to be candied|
I wanted to decorate my pie with homemade candied lime slices, so while the base was blind baking, I thinly sliced some lemons. These were blanched for 2 mins before being added to a simple sugar syrup, where I cooked them gently for 15 -20 mins or until the slices were translucent. I drained them on a wire rack and left to cool, before dredging in some castor sugar.
Meanwhile, my pastry case was out of the oven. Despite some shrinkage around the edges, things were looking good, so I left it to cool while I prepared the filling. Opening the tin of condensed milk took me right back to childhood cooking and making my first ever batch of millionaire squares. The filling came together quite nicely, but as I had predicted, it just wasn't deep enough when poured into the tin. It baked well, and once cooled, I transferred to the fridge to rest and chill thoroughly.
American pies are often decorated with lashings of cream and toppings, and I decided to top mine with a soft meringue. I had 3 egg whites left over from the pie filling, so this was really simple economics. I've always loved the magic of making meringue, and it was fun to pipe concentric rings of little rosettes onto the top of my grill. I whizzed the pie under a hit grill, until the peaks were gently browned. DONE!
|The finished product - with gently browned meringue topping|
|The mandatory base shot - nothing soggy here|
|A slice of lime pie with homemade candied lime slices|
The finished result was a wonderfully tangy pie, but I was disappointed by the filling depth. This would be so much more decadent with a deep layer of lime custard. Ah well, that's what happens when you can't find the base of your loose-bottomed tin.