• 250g plain flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 125g butter cut into cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 45g cornflour
  • 375mls water
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 455g granulated sugar
  • 100mls fresh orange juice
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

I am reaching the terrified stage. I’ve done the hypno birthing course. I’ve re read all my birthing books. I’m trying to keep my feet up. But there’s no getting away from the fact I’m basically scared.

I don’t especially like giving birth. For me, it hurts that bit too much. Admittedly my second son’s birth was a positive experience overall. But it still bloody hurt.

I think it’s karma. When I was training to be a midwife in the late 90s I have to admit to pondering whether some women were making a bit of a fuss over labour. I even remember thinking they were overreacting. Oh the ignorance of youth.

Wish me luck – I am 11 days from my due date. Here’s a recipe for orange meringue pie which would give a woman in labour a fabulous sugar surge.

One year ago: Simple chocolate ganache tart and Meringue roses and Flat vanilla cupcakes

Two years ago: Razzamatazz ribs and Banana and custard cupcakes and After Eight cupcakes

Three years ago: Banana and custard melts

Orange meringue pie

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 125g butter cut into cubes
  • 1 large egg

For the orange curd:

  • 45g cornflour
  • 375mls water
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 455g granulated sugar
  • 100mls fresh orange juice (from 2 oranges)
  • Zest of 2 oranges

For the meringue:

  • 250g caster sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

Mix the flour and icing sugar with the flat beater in a stand mixer then add the butter and mix to breadcrumbs on speed 2 (or rub in by hand). Add the egg and mix at 1 until the pastry is just coming together (or use a blunt knife to mix). Pull the pastry together with your hands. Then wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. Roll out to the thickness of a pound coin and line a 20ish cm tart tin (mine is loose bottomed for easy removal later) and slip it under the pastry by pulling the pastry up from the work surface. Push the pastry into the edges of the tin and into the sides then run a rolling pin over the top of the tin. A very quick and easy way to trim the pastry.

Pop the tin into the fridge for 15 minutes, preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4, with one shelf in the middle of the oven. Bake blind with baking beans or dried rice lining some greaseproof paper for about 20 minutes. Remove the greaseproof paper and beans and bake again until the pastry is completely baked through. Then leave to cool.

Make the orange filling. Take 125mls of the water and add cornflour – whisk well until combined. In a saucepan whisk the egg yolks, sugar, juice and rest of the water. Add the cornflour mix and then place on hob, whisking continually until it boils. Should take about 8 minutes. Then remove from the heat once it’s boiled continuously for 1 minute, still whisking all the time. Add the zest, stir and transfer to a bowl. Cover in clingfilm and cool in the fridge.

Once the curd is cool, preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and make the meringue. Whisk the room temperature egg whites to medium peaks and then add the castor sugar a teaspoon at a time – 30 second intervals between each teaspoon as this stops the meringue weeping in the oven by ensuring all the sugar dissolves. Add the cornflour. Whisk until at stiff peaks and very glossy and white. Spoon the cold curd into the pastry case, (warm curd makes the pastry soggy and the meringue slip off the top) then spoon/pipe the meringue over the top starting at the edges (making sure the pastry is touched by the meringue) and working inwards (or the filling will escape) then bake for 20 minutes until the top is lightly browned and crusty. Leave to cool in the tin for about 1.5 hours before cutting and serving.

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