Lemon Meringue Pie (Vegan)

LMP 2

After seeing the phenomenon that is aquafaba I knew I had to give it a go for myself, so what better way is there to begin than with one of my favourite desserts – Lemon Meringue Pie. If you are not familiar, aquafaba or ‘bean juice’ is the liquid from a can of chickpeas that normally gets poured down the sink. People have since discovered that this liquid contains properties similar to egg whites and it has taken the vegan world by storm.

I was slightly sceptical at first at how it was possible to ‘veganize’ a very popular dessert classic, however I could not be more amazed at how well this recipe turned out. The pastry is crisp and flaky, the curd is perfectly tart and the meringue is soft, fluffy and marshmallow like, which thanks to the vanilla tastes nothing like chickpeas. Next time you use a can of chickpeas, think before chucking that liquid down the sink – you will be surprised at the numerous creations that ‘chickpea water’ can give you.

This recipe is a mix-match of Pastry Affairs Perfect Pie Crust (for a more in depth tutorial of how to make the pastry click through to the original recipe!), this very popular recipe and another recipe I discovered on the Aquafaba facebook group, in order to make the ‘Ultimate Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie’. It looks lengthy, however it is actually rather simple to put together and not that time consuming. The pastry is quick to come together and the only waiting involves the half an hour it takes to chill, but use this time to prepare the other elements. It is important to use vanilla when making the meringue in order to mask any ‘chickpea’ taste there may be, so use a good quality vanilla extract. 

Ingredients for the pastry:

  • 315g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 225g cold dairy-free hard butter, cubed (I used Stork Baking Block)
  • 4 tbsp ice-cold water (put some ice cubes into a cup of water and measure it out from that)

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 300g silken tofu
  • 100g sugar
  • 3 tbsp corn flour
  • Juice and zest of 4 lemons

Ingredients for the meringue:

  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3g agar powder (an important element that shouldn’t be left out!)
  • 60ml water
  • ½ tbsp glucose syrup
  • 90-100ml aquafaba (the liquid leftover from one can of chickpeas)
  • ½ tsp xanthum gum
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method for the pastry:

  1. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar & salt
  2. Add half of the cold cubed butter to the bowl and rub into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs
  3. Add the rest of the butter to the bowl and rub in, but this time leave larger lumps of butter, rather than rubbing it until it forms breadcrumbs like you did before
  4. Add 4 tbsp water and mix until the dough comes together, this should be enough but add more 1 tbsp at a time until the dough holds together when squeezed
  5. Place the dough on greaseproof paper and use this to press the dough into a disk like shape (doesn’t have to be exact). Using the paper, fold the dough in half onto itself, press down and then fold it once again in the opposite direction. Repeat this process a few times until the dough is uniform. When ready, flatten down slightly and leave to chill in the fridge for at least half an hour
  6. Once chilled, cut the dough in half and use the other half for another time (I put the other half in a sandwhich bag and placed it in the freezer for another time, just defrost and use as normal). On a lightly floured surface, roll out to a long rectangle until about 1/2 cm thick and line a 20cm (8in) tart tin, leaving some pastry to overhang so that the pastry does not shrink
  7. Bake blind for 15 minutes then remove the baking beans (I actually use dry rice) and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until golden and the bottom is cooked
  8. Trim away the excess pastry whilst still warm, then leave to cool before adding the filling

Method for the filling:

  1. Blend all the ingredients together in a blender of food processor
  2. Add to a saucepan and stir until thickened – about 10 minutes
  3. Cover with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool before adding to the cooled pastry case. (as it cools it may turn a bit lumpy, just whisk if that happens!)

Method for the meringue:

  1. Put the sugar, agar, water and glucose in a pan and bring to the boil
  2. Meanwhile using a hand-held electric whisk, whisk the aquafaba and the xanthum gum until stiff peaks form
  3. Add the vanilla then whisk again
  4. Once the sugar has reached 250f on a thermometer, work quickly (but carefully!) to pour the sugar syrup into the meringue, whisking as you do so. Continue to whisk until the meringue has cooled
  5. Using a spoon or  a pipping bag, put the meriunge mixture on top of the lemon curd and burn with a blowtorch, or place under a hot grill until the meringue is golden 

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