So, as promised, I spent the day baking two lemon meringue pies – and jesus fucking christ it was a nightmare. The easiest part of this whole process was just buying a ready-made pie from Sainsbury’s.
As a reminder, the two recipes I used were:
- Delia Smith‘s traditional lemon meringue pie
- InTheKitchenWithKate‘s youtube tutorial- just because it was the first video that showed up (after Mary Berry’s) when I searched the term ‘Lemon Meringue Pie’
And this link takes you to the Sainsbury’s pie.
An image of all the ingredients I used:
As you can see, most of these ingredients are from Sainbury’s- I’d just like to make it clear that despite mentioning the store 3 times already, I do not get paid in anyway for doing so. It just happens to be the closest grocery store to me…well, Waitrose is closer but fuck their prices.
The cost of all these ingredients really wasn’t much. The only thing I already had at home was the salt and the cornflour, but together they cost less than a medium vanilla latte from Costa. In fact, the single most expensive thing was the ready-made pie, coming in at £2.75!
Anyway, on to it.
For no particular reason at all, I started with Delia’s recipe.
Looking at the ingredients and steps, I thought this was an idiot-proof recipe- but I soon encountered problems. Making the pastry dough was not in itself hard- in fact it all came together easier than I expected. I crumbled the flour and salt together with the butter and salt, just like when I used to make the topping of my Mum’s apple crumble. I added enough water to bind it all together, and then a little more to form it into a smooth dough. Popped the ball into a sandwich bag because cling film is a pain the arse, chilled it for 30mins, and then placed it onto my floured chopping board.
THIS is where the problems started. This dough was fucking dry. It cracked and came apart at the slightest movement of my rolling pin, no matter what I tried. Eventually, I just about rolled it well enough to transfer it into my non-stick silicone cake tin, but it continued to fall apart. My botched repair job is apparent. The online method didn’t say anything about placing baking beans or rice on the base of the pastry, so I pricked it with a fork and shoved it in the oven. I took it out 20mins later and the colour looked pretty good…the texture, however, was a mess. Crumbly, and dryer than the Sahara fucking desert. Fuck.
I soldiered on anyway, starting to think that perhaps this was a bad idea. But the filling was simple and I was surprised at how well it went compared to the pastry. The mix thickened nicely and tasted pretty good. So, I poured that into the base and moved onto the meringue.
This is where the next problem reared its ugly head. Now, I know how to make a meringue. You beat the shit out of the egg whites until peaks form, then SLOWLY add your sugar in parts, beating in between each addition and then some. But this meringue was not fucking having it at all. It was a runny mess, and I beat this thing with my electric whisks to within an inch of its frothy life. Now, you might be thinking that I probably did it wrong. But when you see the second meringue I made, you’ll see that you can shove your rolling pin up your arse because I can make a damn meringue.
Despite this set back, I poured it onto my pie and threw it in the oven, sat down on my sofa, and started to wonder if 1pm was too early to start drinking.
I didn’t expect much when I went to take this pie out of my oven, but good god it looked like a dog had thrown up a cottage pie. Not a good start. In any case, I moved it out of the way to cool, and started on the youtube recipe.
Sighing in exasperation at the amount of dirty dishes that were piling up, I started to mix another pastry dough. This recipe called for icing sugar and an egg yolk, so I knew it was going to be more wet than Delia’s piece of shit pastry. But perhaps…perhaps it was too wet? I rolled it up into a ball, chilled it in the fridge, took it back out, and prepared myself for another rolling pin disaster. But this pastry was tame. It rolled out wonderfully, and transferring it into my pie tin was as easy as…pie. lol. This recipe DID call for baking beans or rice, so I loaded the base with rice wrapped in baking paper (after pricking the pastry) and slid it into the oven. I took it out to remove the rice 10mins later, returned it to the oven, and waited another 10mins to take it out. Compared with the previous base, this pastry looked pretty damn good. You can see a few crappy attempts to repair the odd crack, but I could live with that.
Making the filling was, again, nice and simple. I did worry at one point that it wasn’t going to thicken up, but it seemed like I looked away for 3 seconds and when I came back it was the consistency of nutella. Lemon nutella. I was ever so slightly disappointed with the taste of this one- it was nice, no doubt, but not lemon-y enough for me. That could just be me though, I like my food to be sour like my personality.
Then came the meringue. Although my first attempt was pretty poor, this one came together nicely. The thing was, I didn’t do anything differently- I beat it at the same speed for the same time, incorporating the sugar at the same intervals…and it was beautiful! I scraped it onto the pie, transferred the whole thing into the oven, and was able to take it out 15mins later. A much quicker turn around than the 45min it took Delia’s pie to cook.
I expected much more out of this pie, and I was not disappointed- it looked near identical to the pie on the youtube tutorial. You can see a few cracks in the pastry, but at the end of the day, it held its shape nicely. I pushed that one to the side, next to the Delia’s demonic creation. At this point I took a breath, looked to see if it was Wine o’clock, and realised I had to make our friggin’ dinner. Chinese crispy chilli beef- delicious.
After I ate, I popped the basic bitch that was the Sainsbury’s pie into the oven for 10mins at the suggested temperature. I took it out and realised it was barely even warm, despite the oven being preheated, but fuck it. I had spent the better part of a day making lemon meringue pie, I can deal with this one not being perfect. I presented all three of them to this weeks taste tester: Legend Lee Perkins.
Of course, I did not tell him which pie was which, only that one was Sainsbury’s, one Delia Smith’s, and one from the first youtube tutorial I found.
He looked less than impressed with Delia’s cat-vomit-omelette upon serving it to him, but cheered up when he saw my other masterpiece.
Based on their presentation alone, he declared which pie he thought was which- he was right about the Sainbury’s, but got the Delia and the Youtube pies mixed up. Fair enough, I thought. You don’t expect the nation’s sweetheart to give you a recipe that produced utter bollocks. Delia, wtf.
His opinion didn’t change after tasting them, though he did question it. I told him which was which, and annoyingly, he didn’t seem all that shocked and hinted that it might be my fault that one pie looked like roadkill. I disagree. I blame Delia. Bitch.
All in all, his favourite was the Sainbury’s pie, but he did enjoy the Youtube pie as well. I could tell he wasn’t too eager to get seconds of Delia’s soggy pancake.
Personally, my favourite was the Youtube pie- maybe due to the effort I put into making it, but I thought the meringue was the right consistency- crisp on the outside, squishy in the middle. The Sainbury’s meringue was just normal, hard meringue, and to me it felt the wrong texture to be paired with the lemony filling. One week in, and I’m turning into Mary Berry. What the fuck do you mean I’m maybe more like Gordon Ramsay?
Some Comparison Images
The image on the left is the Basic Bitch Pie, the other is the Youtube pie. It was not worth capturing the ‘beauty’ of a cross section of Delia’s mess.
All in all, of course buying the Sainbury’s pie was easier- but out of the two that I had to bake, I would actually say that Delia’s was more simple- perhaps due to there being less ingredients. It’s a shame that it turned out so terribly, especially as I thought to myself how simple the recipe actually looked.
It is easy to see though, that the pie I created from a random Youtube video was miles ahead of its deformed cousin. So, if I had to make one again then that would be the recipe I’d use.
- Difficulty: 6/10
- Taste: 3/10
- Presentation: -500/10
- Difficulty: 7/10
- Taste: 9/10 (could have been more lemon-y)
- Presentation: 8.2/10
- Difficulty: 1/10 (I had to WALK to the shop!)
- Taste: 9/10 (could have squishier meringue)
- Presentation: 9.5/10
The Final Word
Go fuck yourself, Delia.