Mom’s Lemon Meringue Pie


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Mom’s Lemon Meringue Pie

by Suzanne van Rooyen

Want to know one of the most confusing things about my childhood? Christmas.

I grew up in South Africa which meant that December was one of the hottest months of the year. Despite this fact, all the Christmassy stuff in shops – which inevitably made its way into our home – involved snow and reindeer (I thought they were misshapen wildebeest for a long time) and a fat man trussed up in far too much clothing for the summer heat. We were bombarded with European imagery of Christmas to the point where I remember making snowflakes in school – you know, by cutting out shapes in folded paper – and not even really understanding what it was. In my child-mind, snow in the movies looked a lot like balls of polystyrene. I just didn’t get it. I also didn’t understand why my mom would struggle in the sweltering kitchen to deliver a roasted ham and turkey dinner no one wanted to eat because everyone wanted to be in the pool.

While my childhood Christmases did end up being variations on the traditional European theme, there was one exception when it came to dessert. We eschewed fruit cake – only my dad liked it, my siblings and I just ate the icing – and opted instead for my mom’s signature and singularly delicious lemon meringue pie. My mom still makes this for every family occasion and we all still fight over the last slice! I have very generously shared the recipe for this below as I remember it from making it with my mom.

For the crust

  • A packet of Tennis biscuits (no other biscuits will do)
  • A generous helping of butter

Crush the biscuits until you have crumbs, mix into melted butter, press into pie dish, then lick the remnants from bowl and spoon with relish.

For the filling

  • A tin of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2-3 egg yolks
  • lemon juice

Beat the ingredients together taste-testing regularly to make sure the mix is tart enough. It shouldn’t be too sweet, then lick the tin of condensed milk clean without cutting your tongue on the sharp edges. Pour this mix over the biscuit base.

For the meringue

  • 2-3 egg whites, room temperature
  • a lot of caster sugar
  • Slowly whisk the egg whites gradually adding the sugar until stiff peaks form. Lick remaining meringue from whisk before your sister does! Spread the meringue over the top of the pie and pattern as you wish giving the pie a few fluffy peaks.

Place pie in the oven at medium-high heat and watch impatiently for the meringue to turn a golden brown. Remove from oven, wait impatiently for it to cool a little before cutting it into slices. Serve with vanilla ice cream or just eat it as it is. This pie is delightful warm or cold, not that it ever lasts long enough to turn cold.

Now that I live in Sweden, Christmas makes a lot more sense what with the snow and cold and darkness and reindeer and all. While I have adapted to the new traditions of living here, one thing no holiday of mine will ever be complete without is my mom’s lemon meringue pie! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Author Bio:

SuzanneThe author of THE OTHER ME, I HEART ROBOT and the forthcoming SCARDUST, Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Sweden and is busy making friends with the ghosts of her Viking ancestors. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When she grows up, she wants to be an elf – until then, she spends her time (when not writing) wall climbing, buying far too many books, and entertaining her shiba inu, Lego.

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