Sweet-as pies: Lemon meringue, apple earl grey, chocolate coffee pecan and more

Chocolate ganache and espresso, buckwheat and pecan caramel pie.
Chocolate ganache and espresso, buckwheat and pecan caramel pie. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Winter: Stretchy pants season. And pie season. Glorious pies. From quivering toasted meringue tops to dense and rich fillings, there really is a sweet pie for every persuasion. Note: all four pie recipes are designed to fit a loose-bottomed 28cm round tin.

Basic sweet pastry

This dough is very short with a high butter to flour ratio. It holds its shape and is perfect for holding pie filling. It can be kept overnight in the fridge and also freezes well. This recipe makes enough for two pie bases and two lids.

INGREDIENTS

500g unsalted butter, softened but still cold

50g icing sugar, sifted

200g castor sugar

2 tsp salt

5 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue, recipe below)

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660g plain flour

METHOD

Put the butter, icing sugar, castor sugar and salt in a bowl and using a wooden spoon, mix well to combine. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, until incorporated. Fold through the flour until just combined. Turn out onto a clean work surface and gather together.

Divide the pastry into four portions and shape into round, flat discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or freeze for future use).

Remove the pastry disc from the fridge 20 minutes before using. Roll the pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper until 3mm-thick. Place on trays and refrigerate again for at least 20 minutes.

Makes enough pastry for 2 pie bases and 2 lids

Lemon meringue pie with raspberry and basil recipe. Four sweet pie recipes for Good Food August 2018. Please credit Katrina Meynink.

Lemon and raspberry-cardamom pie topped with wispy clouds of torched Italian meringue. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Lemon meringue pie with raspberry

It's important to add the gelatine to the lemon curd to ensure it holds the layer of raspberry and the glorious top hat of meringue. A few fresh basil leaves are the perfect partner to this sweet-but-tart showstopping pie. Note: You will need a candy thermometer for the meringue.

INGREDIENTS

1 portion basic sweet pastry (recipe above)

fresh basil leaves, to serve (optional)

Lemon filling

3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

160g castor sugar

150ml fresh lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)

zest of 3 lemons

100g butter

1 gold strength gelatin sheet, softened in ice-cold water

Cardamom raspberry layer

150g fresh raspberries

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

1 tsp ground cardamom

Italian meringue

330g castor sugar

5 egg whites

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Grease and line a pie tin. Gently place the rolled and chilled pastry over the top and push into the tin, trimming the sides.

Pop the pie tin in the fridge for 20 minutes. Line with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice, then blind bake the pastry for 20 to 25 minutes or until it is golden around the edges. Remove the weights or rice and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes – the case should take on a lovely tanned appearance. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

For the lemon curd, whisk eggs, yolk and sugar in a heatproof bowl, then whisk in lemon juice and zest, followed by the butter. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not allow the water to boil) and lightly whisk the mixture until it thickens to the consistency of whipped cream (about 20 minutes). Remove from the heat, and working quickly, add the bloomed gelatine and whisk briskly to combine and prevent any clumps from forming.

Spoon the curd into the cooked, cooled pastry shell and smooth the top using the back of the spoon. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or until completely cooled and just set – it should be wobbly, and slightly softer than a panna cotta in consistency.

In a bowl, mash the raspberries with the vanilla bean paste and cardamom with a fork until the juices are released. Gently spread the raspberry mixture over the lemon curd then return to the fridge while you prepare the meringue.

For the Italian meringue, place sugar in a heavy-based saucepan, add ¼ cup water and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook until syrup reaches 115C on a sugar thermometer, then remove from heat. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form, then, with the motor running, slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup in a steady stream and whisk for 5 minutes or until the bowl no longer feels warm to the touch. Reduce speed to low and mix until the meringue reaches room temperature.

Scoop the meringue mixture onto the pie, and gently use your spoon to create peaks and troughs – the less uniform, the better – it helps to catch the flame when you torch it.

Use a blowtorch to toast the meringue until golden (optional). Scatter with a few fresh basil leaves and serve.

Makes one 28cm round pie

Chocolate ganache pie with espresso, buckwheat and pecan caramel recipe. Four sweet pie recipes for Good Food August 2018. Please credit Katrina Meynink.

This tart holds two dense fillings: dark chocolate ganache topped with coffee, puffed buckwheat and pecan caramel. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Chocolate ganache pie with espresso, buckwheat and pecan caramel

Pie purists may argue that this is a tart, the defining element being all pies must have lids, but we'll make an exception for this crunchy, nutty caramel topping. Note: You will need a candy thermometer for the caramel.

INGREDIENTS

1 portion basic sweet pastry (recipe above), rolled to 2mm thick

Chocolate ganache

100g dark chocolate (50-70 per cent cocoa)

200ml cream

Espresso pecan and buckwheat caramel

2 cups castor sugar

½ cup cream

60g butter

30ml espresso

1 cup puffed buckwheat

1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

melted dark chocolate, extra, to drizzle (optional)

METHOD

Grease and line a pie tin. Gently place the rolled pastry over the top and push into the tin, trimming the sides. Rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Line the pastry with baking paper and fill the tart with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Blind bake the pastry case in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges start to golden. Remove the pastry weights or rice and bake for another 10 minutes until the pastry takes on a tanned colour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

To make the ganache, break the chocolate into pieces into a stainless steel bowl. Put the cream in a saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat – this needs to happen quickly to prevent the cream from evaporating and reducing in volume. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the chocolate has completely melted. Pour the chocolate mixture into the baked tart shell – it should come up about half way. Pop the tart in the fridge for 30 minutes and remove it when you start to make the caramel.

To make the caramel, place the sugar and half a cup of water in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir with a spoon. Should sugar crystals start to form on the sides, brush them away with a wet pastry brush. When the sugar is dissolved, increase heat to high, bring to the boil and cook without stirring, until the mixture is golden and reaches 160C on a sugar thermometer (this can take up to 20 minutes).

Remove from heat and carefully add the cream, butter and espresso and stir until well combined. Stir through the puffed buckwheat and chopped pecans and pour the caramel mixture over the top of the chocolate ganache layer. Set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature or until almost set. Drizzle over melted chocolate (if using), slice and serve.

Makes one 28cm round pie

Apple and early grey pie recipe. Four sweet pie recipes for Good Food August 2018. Please credit Katrina Meynink.

Leave the peel on the apples for this lattice-topped pie. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Earl grey apple pie

Most apple pies are made with Granny Smith apples as they hold their shape well. But I love making apple pie with a sweeter variety, using the natural sugars of the fruit rather than adding a lot of extra sugar. Leaving the skins on reduces the prep time, too. Earl grey tea adds a lovely subtle flavour.

INGREDIENTS

1 portion basic sweet pastry (recipe above), rolled to 2mm-3mm thick

2 tbsp loose leaf earl grey tea

6 pink lady apples, cored and sliced about 1cm thick

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

⅓ cup castor sugar

4 tbsp tapioca flour

Glaze

1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp cream

1 tbsp raw sugar

METHOD

Grease and line a pie tin. Gently place the rolled pastry over the top and push into the tin, trimming the sides. Re-roll any offcuts to use for your lattice top – you should have quite a lot of excess pastry. Rest the pie tin in the fridge for 20 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Blind bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pastry starts to turn golden around the edges. Remove the weights or rice and bake for another 10 minutes until it takes on a tanned colour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Add the tea to half a cup of boiling water and set aside for 20 minutes. While the tea is steeping, toss the apples with the vanilla bean paste and castor sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Strain the tea over the apples. Place over medium heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring gently to cook evenly but be careful not to break up the apple. Remove from the heat, add the tapioca flour and stir quickly to coat (the apple should take on a jammy coating). Turn apple mixture into the pre-baked pie shell.

Cut the remaining re-rolled pastry offcuts (this can be about ½- to 1cm-thick) into even strips, the width will depend on how many lattice strips you'd like across your pie (between 4 and 12).

Lay out 4 to 7 parallel strips of the pastry on top of the filling with an even space between them. Now gently weave remaining strips perpendicular to those laid originally and press the pastry down gently around the edges of the pie to seal.

Brush the pastry with the glaze using a pastry brush, being careful not to glaze onto the apple sections, then scatter over the sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry lattice top looks lovely and golden.

Makes one 28cm round pie

Rhubarb, raspberry and rosewater pie recipe. Four sweet pie recipes for Good Food August 2018. Please credit Katrina Meynink.

This pie uses a different pastry recipe. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Rhubarb, raspberry and rosewater pie

The best bit about this pastry is none of the blind-baking shenanigans are required. Just a quick freeze while you prepare the filling, then shove it in the oven. No one likes a soggy pie and the fruit makes all the difference. Be sure to use fresh raspberries; frozen raspberries will create too much liquid.

INGREDIENTS

For the pastry

2 cups plain flour

½ tsp salt

2 tsp castor sugar

⅔ cup lard, melted (or vegetable shortening, unmelted)

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

6 to 8 tbsp iced water

For the filling

700g rhubarb, trimmed and sliced to about 2cm dice

150g fresh raspberries

1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

3 tbsp rosewater

6 tbsp tapioca flour

For the glaze

1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp cream

1 tbsp raw sugar

vanilla ice-cream, to serve (optional)

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 220C.

To prepare the pastry add the flour, salt and castor sugar to a bowl, and use a fork to stir to combine and aerate the flour a little. Add the lard and cut through with the fork. Continue mixing until you have coarse crumbs. Add the vanilla bean paste. Combine then gradually add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Pull the dough apart and if it seems crumbly, add a little more water, a teaspoon at a time. Separate into 2 balls, one slightly larger (the base) than the other.

Spread out a sheet of baking paper and place the larger ball of dough on it and roll with a rolling pin until the diameter is about 3cm larger than the diameter of your pie tin, and a few millimetres thick. Gently transfer the pastry to the pie tin, press it into place including up the sides of the tin and trim the edges (reserve the offcuts for the lid). Place the pastry case in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl until the fruit is evenly coated in the tapioca flour – this will prevent your pie becoming a soggy-bottomed mess.

Remove the pie base from the freezer and fill with the rhubarb mixture. Gently dab the top edge of the pastry with water.

Roll the remaining pastry into a circle, place it over the rhubarb filling, gently pressing the pastry it into the water-dabbed edge. Trim any overhanging pastry and cut a few vents in the lid to allow the steam to release. Generously brush the top with the glaze and scatter with raw sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 170C and cook for a further 30 minutes or until some juice bubbles through the vents and the top is a lovely golden colour. Slice and serve with ice-cream.

Makes one 28cm round pie