Redcurrant Meringue Pie – “Johannisbeerkuchen”
Redcurrants hang like bunches of rubies beneath the bushes in the allotment. They’re outrageously fertile, producing several kilos per bush. They are called Johannisbeeren – St. John’s Berries, in German, because they ripen around St. John’s Day – 24th June, Midsummer's Day. This year they’re a bit late, but every bit as juicy and perfect as ever.
I make this pie at least once a year because it’s my husband’s all-time favourite baked dessert. It is a bit of a faff to make because the pie crust dough is fragile and tends to slump, and you have to cook it first, then fill the crust and cook again. But it’s worth it; the pie looks a treat and the taste is out of this world. The juicy tart plump berries combine with foamy meringue in the filling and the pie crust is crisp, crumbly, and sweet. You could make a similar pie with any tart small berry such as raspberries, blackcurrants, or even stoned cherries.
I made it in a high sided square tin, and when I baked it, the crust on the sides slumped down under its own weight as it cooked and softened. It would have been better to cook it in a metal quiche tin with sides only a centimetre or so high, and that’s what I will do next time, so that’s what I’m recommending for you; so your pie should look neater than mine on the picture.
I made it for my Seniors Lunch Club this week (and of course reserved a slice or two for my husband). Our theme was Wild Flowers, so we had a little vase of wild flowers (otherwise known as weeds from my allotment) on each table. There were many memories of picking wild flowers, making daisy chains, testing friends under the chin with a buttercup, throwing sticky burrs at people in the school playground and other misdemeanours. Our favourite wild flowers included bluebells, daisies, roses and honeysuckles. Then our conversation moved randomly, as it so often does, and we ended up having a round of “if I was going to have a tattoo, it would be…..”. We ranged from butterflies and roses to dolphins and dragons. If there’d been a mobile tattoo artist around at that minute, she’d have had a queue of octogenarian customers.
Serves 12 Timings: about 2 hours (and that doesn't count picking the berries)
For the crust:
For the filling:
Mix all the crust ingredients to a smooth dough, knead very briefly, wrap and put in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. This will make it slightly more stable, although it is a very soft crumbly dough.
Grease and line your low sided metal loose bottomed quiche tin.
Pre heat the oven to 180°C.
When the dough has chilled, roll it out on a floured surface and press it into your prepared tin. You probably won’t get the whole sheet of dough across into the tin in one piece, but don’t worry about that. This crust is more like a biscuit than pastry, so just get it to about half a centimetre thin layer across your tin and press the dough pieces together to join them.
Line with greaseproof paper and baking beads and cook for about 30 minutes. Remove the paper and beads and cook again for about another 10 minutes just to ensure the base is cooked and light brown.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites well until smooth and fluffy and stiff peaks have formed. Gently mix in the sugar and cornstarch and then tip in the redcurrants and mix again.
Spread this across your pie crust and bake again until the filling is set and the top is very lightly browned. I baked mine for 30 minutes at 180°C and then turned the heat down to 170°C for another 30 minutes but if you are using a lower sided tin it would take less time, so give it 20 minutes and 20 minutes and see if it’s done. The filling should be set and with no wobble but still be very juicy.
Keep in the fridge on the tin bottom and eat with whipped cream within a day or so of making.
Go and put your feet up after all that, and enjoy an afternoon in the garden.
A Hug from the Kitchen
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