Canadian Lemon Pie: 1923

Posted in - Mrs C.S. Peel's Recipes & Peacetime on February 24th 2014 0 Comments

While my favourite lemon pie mixture involves several egg yolks, butter and sugar, Granny Dot’s involves milk and cornflour.  It is delicious and much less time consuming to make, even less so if you use pre-made pastry.  However, part of the joy is in recreating the past and using both lard and butter in the pastry does just that.
(Check out the better than usual photography – took a day course with Marie Forsberg, though I do have a few impending posts which include older photographs – be warned!)


In the words of Granny Dot:

‘Short crust; 1 1/2 tablespoonfuls of cornflour; 1/2 pint of milk; 5 oz. of sugar; 2 eggs; the grated rind and juice of 1 lemon.
Line a sandwich tin of flan case with short crust and make a neat dented edge. Prick the bottom, cover with greaseproof paper and fill with beans or crusts.  bake for 20 minutes (Regulo 7, 450 Elec.) and remove the paper and crusts.
Mix the cornflour smoothly with some of the milk, heat the remainder and pour on to the cornflour. Return to the pan and boil for 5 minutes, stirring well. Cool a little.
Separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs.  Beat the yolks and add them gradually to the cornflour, beating them well into the lemon rind, and strained lemon-juice, stirring all the time.  Fill the pastry case with this mixture and bake for a few minutes in a moderate oven until set.  Whisk the egg-white very stiffly, sift the sugar, pile this meringue on top of the filling, dredge with castor sugar and dry gently in a cool oven for 20 minutes.  Serve cold.’
(My Own Cookery Book, 1923, Mrs C.S. Peel)

Serves 10

Ingredients for the pastry
8 oz. flour
2 oz. lard
2 oz. butter
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cold water

1.  Whizz the lot in a whizzer and squeeze together, then put on a large piece of clingfilm or baking paper.
2.  Place another piece on top and roll it out.
3.  Remove the top layer of clingfilm or baking paper and turn the pastry dough over onto the flan dish.
4.  Line the dish, filling in any gaps.
5.  Now scrumple up a piece of baking paper, then unscrumple and it and fit it snuggly on top of the lined pastry case with baking beans on top of it.
6. Put it in the oven for 10 minutes at 190C/390F.
7. Remove the baking paper and beans (be careful, I had them flying around the kitchen with my poor dogs trying to eat hot little stones).
8.  Put the pastry back in the oven for another ten minutes then remove.

Ingredients for the filling
3 tbsp cornflour
1 pint/570 mls milk
10 oz/280g sugar
zest of and juice of  3 lemons
4 eggs, separated
(this is double the quantity of filling the photograph as next time I will add more)

1.  Heat the milk and pour some in to a bowl with the cornflour in to make a paste. Add the rest of the milk and put it back in the pan and stir for a few minutes until it thickens. Be really careful not to leave it as it will catch on the bottom of the pan.
2.  Add 2 oz/55g of sugar and stir in then let it cool a little before adding the lemon juice, zest and yolks.
3.  Put it in the pastry case and into the oven at 170C/330F for twenty minutes until firmish.
4.  Remove from the oven.
5.  Whisk the whites and add the sugar gradually.  Keep whisking until you have a very stiff and glossy peak.
6.  Spoon onto the pastry case and put into a cool oven. I put it into the bottom oven of a two oven aga (about 120C/240F) for about 40 minutes.  It really makes a huge difference to leave it in until the top is a pale brown, at which point the pastry should be crisp and crumbly and the filling fully set.
7. Serve warm or cold.


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