Peach & lemon verbena meringue pie

by Ginny Grant | Cuisine issue #156
Serves: 6Lemon verbena adds a lovely subtle lemon flavour to poaching liquids, custards and ice-cream - here it gives a light flavour to the panfried fruit.

If you can’t find it, you could substitute with rose geranium leaves, or omit the leaves altogether. I used Black Boy peaches – hence the lovely red colour of the filling – but Golden Queens would also be delicious.

Pastry
160g flour
pinch of salt
120g unsalted butter

Put the flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse once to distribute the salt evenly then add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 3 tablespoons chilled water and pulse once or twice, but don’t allow the mix to form a ball.

Turn the dough out on to a bench and knead lightly to bring together. Form into a disc then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 4mm thick. Use the pastry to line the base and sides of a 20cm tart tin, trimming the edges. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (you could also freeze the tart case at this point for later use, then put it straight into the oven to bake from frozen).

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prick the tart base with a fork then cover with baking paper and fill with dried beans, rice or ceramic beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes then remove the paper and weights and bake for a further 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Allow to cool before filling.

For the filling
20g butter
4 peaches, slightly underripe, peeled, cut into slices
150g caster sugar, plus 2 tablespoons extra
8 lemon verbena leaves,very finely chopped
1 teaspoon cornflour, mixed to a slurry with 1 teaspoon water
4 egg whites
1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan then add the peaches, 2 tablespoons of sugar and the lemon verbena leaves. Cook for a few minutes or until the peaches are just tender. Add the cornflour mix to the peaches and stir to combine and thicken. Set aside to cool slightly (make the meringue while the peaches are cooling, but try to spread it over the peaches while they are still warm – this seems to help stop the meringue weeping).

Whisk the egg whites in a mixer until foamy then add the cream of tartar. Continue whisking until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 150g sugar, a little at a time, continuing to whisk until the meringue is stiff and glossy.

Spoon the peaches into the tart tin and spread the meringue over the top. Bake for 10 minutes or until the meringue is light golden. Stand for 20 minutes then slice and serve.

Wine - A sparkling muscat such as Asti.

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