“Was Lard The Answer All Along!?”
I know I’ve been mentioning my trip to the north of England a lot recently but it turned out it was that eventful food-wise. Amy’s mother found a small recipe book from Be-Ro, a Newcastle based brand from 1880. The founder of the company, Thomas Bell, held exhibitions selling baked goods that were so popular that people wanted the recipes to be taken home thus the line of Be-Ro recipe books was created.
This particular book I got my hands on is the 37th edition, printed in 1982. Although small, it’s filled with more than just baking recipes such as sauces, icings and goes further with storage advice and picture assisted tutorials.
There’s so few ingredients involved in this recipe that besides the lard and maybe the lemon, I would expect most people to have the majority of the ingredients already. Being the first time for my making a lemon meringue pie, it was a good basic set of ingredients to learn with.
Of course the first part of the recipe was the make the pastry which I’m glad was featured earlier in the book and not a pre-made product you can find with other brands. As always with shortcrust, you want to make sure the pastry is worked as little as possible hence the fat is rubbed into the flour with your hands.
This is further emphasised by the use of a knife to gently cut and fold the dough with the water to make a paste as gently as possible.
Dare I say, I think it might have been the nicest shortcrust dough I’ve made and this was with the use of lard and the lack of resting the dough. There was something just very clean and smooth about the dough which made it very easy to work with.
After rolling off the excess dough, it needs to be blind baked so baking beans, rice or any other weight must be used to keep the base from rising.
While the pastry is baking, you can get on with the fillings which are both simple to make. You just need to make sure the eggs for the curd are beaten with the sugar before adding the liquids or else you make find yellow speckles of egg cooked by the hot water. After adding in the cornflour mix, it will take no time at all for the curd to thicken. The meringue is similar in that you should wait to stiffen the egg whites before slowly adding the sugar.
Assembly is now just a matter of spreading the lemon curd over the pastry base followed by the meringue. You can then draw patterns over the meringue to add a bit of design and texture to the pie.
Unfortunately my flan tin was slightly larger than the one required hence the smaller layer of curd but personally I enjoyed that smaller amount of tartness and I did make fifty percent more meringue to allow me to play with the top. I have kept the recipe as it was written in the book so I don’t mention to preheat the oven like I normally do and use language such as “home into fluted edges”. Of course my edition is a bit dated but it’s impressive to see the amount of information and content they were able to fit into these books.
So I hope you enjoy this recipe and maybe those living in the UK can find a copy of the Be-Ro recipe book so that they too, can cook with the Be-Ro Bear…
- 200g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 50g lard
- 50g margarine
- cold water to mix, about 30ml
*makes 200g pastry which is double the requirement
- 2 medium sized eggs – separated
- 200g caster sugar
- juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
- 125ml boiling water
- 25g cornflour
Make the Shortcrust Pastry
- Mix flour and salt in a mixing bowl, rub in fat.
- Using a knife to cut and stir, mix with cold water to form a stiff paste.
- Turn dough on to a floured worktop and roll out.
- Lay pastry over the an 18cm(7in) flan tin.
- Press pastry home into fluted edges.
- Roll off any surplus pastry.
- Cover pastry with grease proof paper and weigh down with rice or beans.
- Bake in a moderate oven 190°C, 375°, Gas mark 5 for 20 minutes.
- Remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
Making the Lemon Curd
- Beat egg yolks with 100g sugar, add lemon juice, grated rind and boiling water.
- Blend in the cornflour mixed to a smooth paste with cold water, bring to the boil, stirring well.
- Pour into the baked flan case.
Meringue and Assembly
- Whisk egg whites stiffly, gradually beat in the remaining sugar.
- Spread over the flan and bake until crisp and pale golden brown at 150°C for 25-30 minutes.